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:
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.
My reaction to this information as a movie lover and sci-fi fanatic who is only just now finding this out:
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.
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!
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.
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?"
Also, in another twist, apparently Val Kilmer was the first pick to play Morpheus??? This would've been a VERY different movie, y'all.
So, basically, Smith turned down The Matrix to instead make Wild, Wild West, which was definitely a choice.
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.
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.