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Will Smith Shared The Story Of Why He Turned Down Playing Neo In "The Matrix" And OMG

Someone picked the blue pill, apparently.

While Will Smith will forever be the "Fresh Prince," he's also quickly becoming the Fresh King of YouTube story-time videos. And this week, whew buddy, he really spilled some insider Hollywood tea:

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Will Smith / Via youtube.com

The description on the video simply reads, "It’s been gossiped about in Hollywood for years, but this is the true story." Basically, Smith was the FIRST CHOICE to play Neo in The Matrix, but he turned it down.

Will Smith

My reaction to this information as a movie lover and sci-fi fanatic who is only just now finding this out:

Warner Bros.

Our story begins in 1996 when, hot off the success of Independence Day, Smith recalls initially TURNING DOWN his role in Men in Black. That's right. He ALSO turned down Men in Black.

Columbia Pictures

Luckily, the film's producer — maybe you've heard of him — Mr. Steven Spielberg, stepped in and was like, yeah, cool, but also maybe don't turn down this role, and Smith listened!

Will Smith

His role in MIB catapulted him into the sci-fi/action hero atmosphere in what he describes as a "you-can-do-no-wrong" type of success...except that you totally can, as he quickly learned.

Columbia Pictures

So 1998 rolls around and he takes a (confusing) pitch meeting for The Matrix which, okay, in Smith's defense just IMAGINE someone trying to explain The Matrix to you with zero visual aids IN THE 1990s...I'd also be like, "I'm sorry, what now?"

Will Smith

Also, in another twist, apparently Val Kilmer was the first pick to play Morpheus??? This would've been a VERY different movie, y'all.

Will Smith

So, basically, Smith turned down The Matrix to instead make Wild, Wild West, which was definitely a choice.

Will Smith

Still, Smith goes on to admit that Keanu Reeves was perfect for the role, even jokingly claiming that him turning it down saved the franchise.

Will Smith

So, uh, yeah. That's a fact I now can't un-know. Time to go rewatch the entire Matrix franchise and imagine Smith as Neo.

Warner Bros.

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