Will Smith wasn’t feeling the Wachowski’s pitch for “The Matrix,” so he dipped on the red and blue pill and opted to film “Wild Wild West” instead.
“This is one of them stories I’m not proud of, but it’s the truth,” Smith said in a video on his YouTube channel Wednesday. “But it ain’t like it would have been that. Keanu [Reeves] was perfect. Laurence Fishburne was perfect. If I had done it then Morpheus wouldn’t have been black because they were looking at Val Kilmer.”
It had been talked about in Hollywood for years, but earlier this week, Smith confirmed that he was pitched and, ultimately, turned down the role of Neo in “The Matrix.”
“They came in and they made a pitch for ‘The Matrix’ and, as it turns out, they’re geniuses,” Smith said. “But there’s a fine line in a pitch meeting between genius and what I experienced in the meeting.”
In the video, Smith explained how the meeting went south for him and the pitch for the filmmakers’ vision didn’t make all that much sense to him.
Smith, at the time, was coming off the back-to-back successes of “Independence Day” ($817.4 million) and “Men in Black” ($589.4 million).
“The Matrix,” which came out in 1999, went on to gross $463.5 million at the worldwide box office and win four Academy Awards, while “Wild Wild West” grossed $222.1 million worldwide and was critically panned. It did give us one of the great movie theme songs, however.
But it seems that Smith hasn’t always been the best judge of what projects to do… or not do. He describes in the video how Steven Spielberg called him to convince him to do “Men in Black,” when he was worried about being pigeonholed as “the alien movie guy.”
“He said, ‘Do me a favor, don’t use your brain for this one, use my brain,'” Smith said of his conversation with Spielberg.