For decades it was said that Will Smith turned down the chance to be Neo in the cult classic film The Matrix and though Keanu Reeves did an admirable job as “The One,” many were left to wonder what could have been and why exactly did The Fresh Prince pass up on such an opportunity.
Interestingly enough his decision to decline was simply based on the way the role was pitched to him. In a segment for STORYTIME, the rapper turned actor explained that the weirdness of what they were telling him threw him off.
“After we made Men in Black, the Wachowskis, they came in, and they had only done one movie, I think it was called Bound, and they made a pitch for The Matrix. As it turns out, they’re geniuses, but there’s a fine line in a pitch meeting between a genius and what I experienced in the meeting. This is the actual pitch that they made for The Matrix. ‘Dude, we’re thinking like, imagine you’re in a fight, then you jump, imagine if you could stop jumping in the middle of the jump… but then people can see around you, 360 while you’re jumping.”
Well, when you put it like that it does sound like a pitch being made by someone who’s probably on heavy meds. So Will went on to make the nuclear bomb known as Wild Wild West. But he doesn’t necessarily regret the move as he called Keanu Reeves casting for the role “perfect” and actually remembers that had he taken the role, Morpheus would’ve been someone else entirely.
“They were looking at Val Kilmer. I was gonna be Neo and Val Kilmer was gonna be Morpheus, so I probably would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it. So I did y’all a favor.”
Well, we can’t argue with proven results, so thanks, Will.