Will Smith Explains Why He Rejected 'The Matrix' All Those Years Ago
Will Smith famously turned down playing Neo in The Matrix—a decision that in hindsight sounds terrible.
However, the actor has now opened up about why exactly he took the blue pill, and it's kind of understandable given how he remembers the directors' original pitch.
In a new video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Smith recalls hitting the big time in the mid-1990s following the success of the likes of Independence Day.
However, his reluctance at being known as the "alien movie guy" led him to turn down Men in Black, before being convinced by Steven Spielberg to do the movie.
"After we made Men in Black, [The Matrix directors] the Wachowskis, they came in and it was like they only did one movie—I think it was called Bound—and they came in and they did a pitch for The Matrix.
"As it turns out, they're geniuses, but there's a fine line in a pitch meeting between genius and what I experienced in the meeting," Smith added, revealing the pitch that the duo made.
"'Dude, we're thinking like, imagine you're in a fight, and then you, like, jump,'" he recalled them saying. "'Imagine if you could stop jumping in the middle of the jump. But then people could see around you 360 while you're jumping, while you've stopped jumping.
"'And then, we're gonna invent these cameras, and then people can see the whole jump while you're stopping in the middle of the jump'," the actor went on, before joking: "So I made Wild Wild West."
To be fair, it doesn't sound like it was the best pitch, though looking back, Smith's decision to make the panned Western movie was just as ill-advised, with the actor admitting he "wasn't proud of it".
However, Smith said that eventual Matrix stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne were "perfect" for the roles.
"If I had done it, because I'm black, then Morpheus wouldn't have been black, because they were looking at Val Kilmer...I probably would have messed The Matrixup, so I did y'all a favor!"
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.