Will Smith has taken to YouTube to explain his decision to turn down the role of Neo in The Matrix.
The Matrix trilogy, while being a little top heavy to many fans, is truly one of the most memorable sci-fi franchises in recent movie history, with the first film proving to be quite the sensation.
Keanu Reeves’ now-famous role as the chosen one Neo has become an iconic one but at one point the part was actually offered to Will Smith. Why didn’t he accept the role? Well, Smith has taken to his YouTube channel to explain:
“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.'”
Smith recalls his shocked reaction: “‘Say that again?'”
The Wachowski’s continued their pitch: “‘But then, people could see around you, 360, while you’re jumping, while you stopped jumping, right? And we’re gonna invent these cameras and then people can see the whole jump while you’re stopped in the middle of the jump.'”
Perhaps it’s not so surprising that Smith decided to pass on the project if this was the actual contents of the pitch! Smith doesn’t regret turning down the role, however, as he explains:
“Keanu was perfect. Laurence Fishburne was perfect. If I had done it, because I’m black, then Morpheus wouldn’t have been black. 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.”
Do you think Smith could have made a good Neo? And what do you think about a late 90s Val Kilmer as Morpheus? Let us know in the comments below.