It turns out Jet Li could've been a part of the Matrix films, but it is a role he turned down, and in a new interview he breaks down why.
Li has been in a host of hit films, but at one point he could've counted The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions among them. Li was up for the role of Seraph, the guardian of the Oracle that ended up being played by Collin Chou. As for why he turned it down, it all came down to owning his moves...literally (via Abacus).
“It was a commercial struggle for me,” Li told Chen Luyu. “I realized the Americans wanted me to film for three months but be with the crew for nine. And for six months, they wanted to record and copy all my moves into a digital library."
That last part was the center of the issue, as he says "By the end of the recording, the right to these moves would go to them.”
That means they would own all of his moves digitally and theoretically could do anything they want with them, and that didn't sit right with Li.
“I was thinking: I’ve been training my entire life. And we martial artists could only grow older. Yet they could own [my moves] as an intellectual property forever. So I said I couldn’t do that,” Li said.
While Li turned the role down, he did say the movie was going to be great with or without him, and it did do big business. The original Matrix ended up bringing in over $171 million domestically on a $63 million budget and brought in over $463 million worldwide in 1999.
It spawned two sequels in Reloaded and Revolutions. Reloaded cost more to make at $150 million and ended up bringing in $281 million and another $460 million overseas for a worldwide haul of $742 million. Revolutions didn't do nearly as well but still proved quite profitable. The film cost $150 million to make and brought in over $139 million and another $288 million overseas, adding up to a worldwide haul of $427 million.1comments
As for Li, he is set to star as The Emperor in Disney's upcoming Mulan live-action remake, which hits in 2020.
Would you have liked to see Li as Seraph in the Matrix movies? Let us know in the comments!