Nicolas Cage was nearly in The Matrix

Actor Nicolas Cage took part in a webchat with Empire Magazine while doing press for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

terrence green says: I’m sure you have turned down films in the past, but is there one that you have thought “Damn, I wish I took it…”?

The only reason why I tend to pass on a movie is either I don’t think I’m right for the material and can’t play it honestly, or because of time constraints with personal things in my life. There were two movies that asked me to go to Australia or New Zealand for long periods of time. One was Lord of the Rings and one was The Matrix. But I was actively involved at that time raising my family and I couldn’t really take that time out.

This brings up a few questions: How far did he get in the casting process?  Who would he have played?  How different would the movie have been?