Will Smith had a decision to make: will he take the red pill or the blue pill?
It was 1996. He was the Fresh Prince, he had just done Independence Day and he didn’t want to be the ‘Alien Movie Guy’. He turned down Men In Black, but Spielberg had convinced him to trust his brain not Will Smiths on this one!
In 1998, after Men In Black, the Wachowskis (who had only really done the one movie at this time) pitched the idea of the Matrix to Will. What they effectively pitched is ‘bullet time‘, but as Will mentions, there is a fine line between Genius and what he experienced in that meeting. He wasn’t convinced.
In the end, he turned down the lead role of The Matrix to make one of the biggest flops of all time, “Wild Wild West”.
The Matrix then went on to star Keanu Reeves instead, grossed over $460 million worldwide, won Academy Awards, BAFTA awards, Saturn awards and is on the list of the greatest fiction films ever. Not only did that movie do well, but it also carved out a franchise of further movies, games and comics.
In the video, Will Smith tells the story in his own words and discusses his regrets.