Will Smith Wishes He Could Tell His Former Self to Take the Neo Role in The Matrix

In his new film Gemini Man -- working title "The Fresh Prince of Looper" -- Will Smith plays Henry Brogan. Brogan is an elite assassin who becomes the target of a mysterious operative -- one who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, he soon learns that the man who's trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself. As one might expect, this has prompted Smith (and the reporters covering him during the film's press junket) to look back at the work of his younger self quite a bit and give things some deep thought. The result?

Well, it's kind of priceless, at least in this one instance. On a red carpet interview, Smith was asked to reveal what piece of advice he would give his younger self if he could, and the answer is one of those quotes that people will be making memes about for years. You can check it out below.

If you live in a place where the video didn't work, what he said was that he would travel back to when he was making Wild Wild West and "I would say 'a--hole, why didn't you do The Matrix?"

For those who haven't heard the story before, Smith was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix, but turned it down, reportedly because he just did not understand what was going on in the pitch meeting. Not that long ago, Smith himself answered the question of why he didn't do 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."

Gemini Man will be in theaters on Friday. At present, Warner Bros. is working on a fourth Matrix movie which will reteam Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves.