Will Smith on why he turned down The Matrix

Will Smith as The Matrix
With The Matrix celebrating its 20th anniversary, one of the common talking points about the film is how things could have been different had the role of Neo not gone to Keanu Reeves.

It’s been rumored that Warner Bros. and the Wachowskis originally had Will Smith in mind for the role, but he turned it down to do Wild Wild West. Reeves would be cast as the One and Wild Wild West would go on to be Will Smith’s first real dud of his career.

Smith finally addressed the rumor in a vlog on his YouTube channel. In 1998, Smith was a hot commodity in Hollywood and was approached by the Wachowskis, who pitched him the role of Neo in The Matrix. Smith states that even though they had only one film under their belt at the time, he still recognized their genius.

However, in Smith’s mind there was a fine line between their genius and what they proposed to him during their pitch. In the vlog he goes on to do a hilarious impersonation of how the two filmmakers explained an action sequence and its use of bullet time, but in doing so left the actor confused. Smith eventually turned down the project.

Poking fun at himself and how poorly Wild Wild West was received, Smith admits he isn’t proud of that movie. And as fun as it would be to imagine Smith as Neo, Smith does go on to reiterate that Keanu was perfect in the role, as was the rest of the cast.

He follows it up by saying his casting in The Matrix likely would have been a bad thing and how it would have had a domino effect in other casting choices. Had he been cast, Warner Bros. was looking at Val Kilmer for the role of Morpheus, among other changes.

So in turning down the role, Smith jokingly states he did everyone a favor. ~Paolo Maquiraya

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Daniel Schneider • February 15, 2019 @ 2:59 AM

    It all worked out for you and everyone in the long run so no worries. God is the Most Almighty.

  2. Ray • February 15, 2019 @ 10:01 PM

    My wife and I really enjoy the wid Wild West. We didn’t think that it was a flop at all. Will Smith is a great actor and we enjoy every movie you’ve been in.

  3. lisa • February 15, 2019 @ 10:30 PM

    is no not wake appalled at what mike said and can it not be removed from the comments

  4. lisa • February 15, 2019 @ 10:32 PM

    aaah sorry about the typo, my comment should have read

    is no one else appalled at mike’s comment

  5. silvio b • February 16, 2019 @ 10:19 AM

    will smith in the The Matrix ??????? are the Wachowskis mad ????!!!!!!!! it like asking Gilbert Gottfried to be Maximus in the movie gladiator it just wouldn’t work, dont get me wrong i think will is a good actor( beside picking awful movies to be in for the most part ) he wouldn’t capture the role like Reeves did because he got that comedy side to him, things always work for the best and glad matrix didn’t involve him

  6. Billy • February 16, 2019 @ 10:29 AM

    Yes Mike’s comment was appalling, however it reflects his mindset. Unfortunately racism is STILL alive and thriving. It’s the Lisa’s of the world who will prevail, not the Mike’s. People of CHARACTER are STILL alive and thriving. Thanks Lisa for being one of the many and and not another of the ignorant few.

  7. Annie • February 17, 2019 @ 12:46 PM

    I love both actors but Keanu I think was a better choice for Neo. He has that insane faraway / but approachable character portrayal that nailed it. As for the racist comment. I would remove it if I could. There is enough awful stuff without it being in our faces. Ugh. Disgusting and ignorant .

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