Fellow finalists Jada Pinkett Smith and Carrie-Anne Moss would go on to star in the blockbuster franchise.

Salma Hayek almost plugged into The Matrix two decades ago.

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard star was one of four finalists for the role of Trinity in the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster, alongside Carrie-Anne Moss, who ultimately landed the part, and Jada Pinkett Smith, for whom the Wachoskis wrote the role of Niobe for the sequels.

In the next episode of Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk series (out Wednesday on Facebook Watch), Hayek jokes that her lack of physical agility was what cost her the role. "We were one of the four finalists for The Matrix," she recalls. "We'd jumped through many hurdles, screen testing, and many auditions. They brought these stunt coordinators from Asia. It was the physical test. I'm flexible and agile, but I'm lazy."

She adds, "I never really went to the gym, they said, 'You have to run!' I go, 'To where?' I couldn't even go around the room once. Here comes Jada, a mean, lean, sexy machine! Oh my God! She was so good! It was so embarrassing! She was so fit, she was so focused, she was so disciplined. She was so capable. She was so gracious. And I just looked at this woman and I thought to myself, 'That's who I want to be when I grow up.'"

Both Hayek and Pinkett Smith agree that Moss was the right person for the job. "I always tell Carrie-Ann that she was perfect for that one," Pinkett Smith says.

Hayek jokes that the Wachoskis never called her again after that embarrassing audition, but she says she took Pinkett Smith's example to heart for future action-heavy roles. "Every time I'm going to do action, I say, no, I better start getting some stamina and practice the routines, you've got to be like Jada!" she quips.

Salma Hayek auditioned for the role of Trinity in 'The Matrix,' which eventually went to Carrie-Anne Moss
| Credit: Todd Williamson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images; Everett Collection

Pinkett Smith previously reminisced about her roles in the Matrix sequels with EW in 2019, recalling how her husband, Will Smith, famously passed on the role of Neo, which went to Keanu Reeves."I knew it would be revolutionary," she recalled. "I was like, 'Will, you've got to do this movie!' He didn't fully get it, but I did."

She added, "I thought Carrie-Anne was the perfect Trinity, and there was no way I could do what she did. And that's the only time in my career I've said that about losing a role."

A fourth live-action Matrix film — for which Moss, Reeves, and Pinkett Smith are slated to return — is scheduled for release in December.

Watch a preview of Hayek on Red Table Talk above.

Hear more on all of today's must-see picks, plus the new Netflix docuseries This Is Pop, in EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.

Related content:

The Matrix
  • Movie
  • 136 minutes