How Nicolas Cage Nearly Starred In ‘The Matrix’ And ‘Lord Of The Rings’

In some alternate universe, movie fans might be watching Christopher Walken as Han Solo, Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones, Eddie Murphy in “Ghostbusters” and Steve McQueen in “The Bodyguard.” Recently, I went digging for a few more of these “What if?” Hollywood near-casting tales, and I dug up a few doozies like this: Nicolas Cage was almost in “Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix”?

“Movies I may have done, but didn’t do,” the “National Treasure” leading man repeated recently, when I asked about some of the many roles (including Superman) that he nearly landed in his two decades at the top of the Hollywood food chain. “Yeah, there was a couple of movies that I was offered, but I had good reasons, so I couldn’t do it.”

“One was ’The Matrix,’ and ’The Lord of the Rings,'” he revealed. “Both are great movies. But they both shot in New Zealand for great quantities of time…I mean years. Well, Australia was ’The Matrix,’ New Zealand was ’The Lord of the Rings.’ But I had family obligations, so I’m glad I stayed and I had those experiences with my family.”

My first thought is a simple one: WTF?

But the more I think about it, the more I wouldn’t want to pre-judge Cage. The guy has forged a career bravely taking on roles that contradict our concept of him (“World Trade Center,” “The Rock,” “Adaptation”) and making them work. In “Matrix” he would’ve played Keanu’s role of Neo, and with “Rings” Cage said he would’ve been “Aragorn,” and as weird as all that might sound, you can only assume Peter Jackson and the Wachowskis knew what they were doing when they offered the Oscar-winner a role.

“I thought what Viggo did was terrific,” Cage added, refusing to speculate on what he would’ve done differently with the “Rings” king. “I just want to think about his character. I don’t think about what I would’ve done.”

But that shouldn’t stop us from thinking about it, naturally. Weigh in below with your thoughts on whether “Matrix” and/or “Rings would’ve been better or worse with Cage. And be sure to check out the entire story here for more unearthed tales featuring near-castings of Cage, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black and more.