Will Smith reveals why he turned down Keanu Reeves’ role in The Matrix

The actor starred in Wild Wild West instead

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 15 February 2019 09:26 GMT
Classic scene where Neo escapes from work in The Matrix

Will Smith has revealed why he famously turned down the lead role in The Matrix.

It's well known that Smith was in contention to play Neo, the role that eventually went to Keanu Reeves, and that turning the Wachowskis' offer down remains a sore point for the actor.

But, in a brand new video, he's recounted the casting process, acknowledging that he didn't share the directing duo's vision of what the film could be and was left baffled by their pitch.

“So after we made Men in Black, the Wachowskis came in and they had only done one movie. I think that movie was called Bound. And they came in and made a pitch for The Matrix. And 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.”

=He jokily recalled their description of the now-iconic freeze frame jump: “We’re thinking like… imagine you’re in a fight. You, like, jump. Imagine if you could stop jumping in the middle of the jump. But then, people could see around you 360 degrees while you stop jumping. We’re going to invent these cameras and then people can see the whole jump when you stop in the middle of the jump.”

Smith went on to star in Wild Wild West, which went on to be one of the biggest flops of his career. However, the actor has the humility to admit that The Matrix was probably better off without him.

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