Rosie Perez Recalls Her 'Horrible' Audition for 'The Matrix': 'We Were All Laughing' After

The Oscar nominee recalled that "the casting director was trying not to laugh" after she "sucked" in her Matrix audition

2022 Free Arts NYC Gala Honoring Artist FUTURA
Photo: Rob Kim/Getty

Rosie Perez has a sense of humor about her failed The Matrix audition.

While speaking with Variety for one of the magazine's Power of Women features, Perez, 58, recalled her audition for a lead role in the 1999 film as she spoke about early-career struggles after breakout roles in Do the Right Thing (1989) and White Men Can't Jump (1992).

"I was horrible," Perez recalled of the audition. "As I was walking out, I was like, 'I know I didn't get the job. I really sucked,' and [the directors] the Wachowskis were like, 'No,' and the casting director was trying not to laugh."

"And then finally I looked at her and I go, 'I really sucked,' and she just burst out laughing," the Oscar nominee added. "We all were laughing. I just gave the Wachowskis a hug and I said, 'Well, good luck with this.' "

The role Perez auditioned for — Trinity, one of the main characters throughout the Matrix franchise — ultimately went to Carrie-Anne Moss, who went on to costar with Keanu Reeves through all four films.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Perez has mentioned her failed Matrix audition before. While speaking with Backstage's In the Envelope podcast in 2021, the actress recalled that she "totally blew it."

"I just burst out laughing, shook everybody's hand, laughing and going, 'I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. Nice to meet you guys,' " she said at the time, during a larger conversation about how actors can prepare for auditions and roles.

As Perez recounted how she got her start to Variety in the new issue, she also recalled how she first met Spike Lee and almost missed her opportunity for her first film role in Do the Right Thing.

Rosie Perez Variety cover Photo credit is Celeste Sloman for Variety
Celeste Sloman for Variety

"I didn't understand who he was. And I didn't care," she told the outlet as she recalled Lee, now 66, approaching her and her friends at a club with his business card as he embarked on casting for his 1989 Brooklyn-based movie. "I threw the card away."

"My girlfriend Marian went back and got it. She always joked, 'You owe your entire career to me,' " Perez added. "You know, I did audition for Do the Right Thing. People think that Spike just discovered me and gave me the role. No, he made me work for it."

Related Articles