Will Smith Explains Why He Turned Down 'The Matrix'

Will Smith dominated the box office in the'90s, thanks to films like Bad Boys, Independence Day, and Men in Black. This doesn't mean the actor accepted every offer that came his way, with the actor recalling what the experience was like to be pitched, and ultimately turn down,The Matrix.

"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," Smith recalled on his YouTube channel. "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 mimicked his shocked reaction, "'Say that again?'" only for the Wachowskis to continue, "'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.'"

Understandably, Smith had his doubts about such a project, ultimately leading Keanu Reeves to join the film. The actor doesn't have any regrets, however, as he knows if he had been involved, the film wouldn't have been as big of a success.

"Keanu was perfect. Laurence Fishburne was perfect," Smith noted. "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."

The actor also recalled the experience of starring in multiple successful films and how he only accepted the role in Men in Black based on the guidance of Steven Spielberg.


"That was a crazy time in my life. It was like, however I threw the ball, it was going in," Smith admitted. "I had done Independence Day the year before. I was like, 'I'm not doing another alien movie, I don't wanna be the alien movie guy,' so I turned down Men in Black. And Steven Spielberg called me, he was producing, he said, 'Why are you turning down that movie?' I said, 'I just don't wanna be the alien guy,' he said, 'Um, do me a favor, don't use your brain for this one, use my brain.' He was so serious that I was like, 'Alright, he did do Jaws.' You just get in that universal energy and nothing can go wrong and that other side comes and you can't do nothing right."

Would you have liked to have seen Smith in the role or are you glad it went to Reeves? Let us know in the comments below!