Will Smith Reveals He Turned Down The Matrix, And Here's Why
"I would have ruined it. So I did ya'll a favor."
Actor Will Smith was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix but he turned it down. The actor explained in a new video that the he was not sold on the Wachowskis' pitch, which supposedly involved promises of new camera technology and hard-to-grasp concepts that Smith didn't resonate with.
"There is a fine line in a pitch meeting between genius and what I experienced in the meeting," he said. Instead of doing The Matrix, Smith made Wild Wild West, and well, Smith acknowledged that he's "not proud of it." That is probably an understatement.
Smith had nothing but praise for Keanu Reeves, who played Neo, and Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus. They were both "perfect" in their career-defining roles, Smith said.
Smith said had he done The Matrix, the film would have featured Morpheus played by a white person. Val Kilmer was reportedly going to play Morpheus in this alternate timeline.
"I probably would have messed The Matrix up," Smith said. "I would have ruined it. So I did ya'll a favor."
This is a fascinating and frank statement from Smith, and it's nice to see him speak so openly and honestly about missing out on starring in a movie as popular as The Matrix. Of course, Smith didn't need The Matrix. He had already made Independence Day, Bad Boys, and Men In Black at that time, and he has gone on to star in many other films later in his career.
In the video, Smith also spoke briefly about how he originally did not want to be in Men In Black, because he had just come off Independence Day and didn't want to be type-casted as "the alien movie guy." Producer Steven Spielberg called him and convinced him to take the part.
It's always interesting to think about alternate casts for movies that go on to be huge hits. You may also recall that Nicolas Cage said no to playing Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, while Al Pacino turned down the role of Han Solo for Star Wars: A New Hope.
Smith will be seen next as the Genie in Disney's new live-action take on Aladdin. He's playing both a human form of the Genie and a CG version that is very, very weird-looking.
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