Keanu Reeves is pleased that Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix, as it changed both his career and his life.
Keanu Reeves thanked publicly Will Smith for having turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix, changing the course of his career and also of his existence.
As the theatrical release of Matrix Resurrections, the fourth installment of the sci-fi saha, approaches, Keanu Reeves talked about his career with Esquire recalling the unique circumstances that brought him to where he is today. Over the course of the conversation, Reeves was asked what he thought about Will Smith turning down the role of Neo in the first Matrix. Here is the star’s answer:
“It was a wonderful creative experience and therefore playing Neo in the trilogy, and now in the fourth film, it had an impact on my personal and creative life.”, he said. The actor then looked at the camera, ostensibly to address Smith himself, saying: “A thousand thanks”.
Will Smith himself revealed the reasons that led him to give up the Matrix to shoot Wild Wild West (regretting it). In 1998, the Wachowskis contacted the star offering him the lead role in The Matrix. At the time, Will Smith was one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors, with blockbuster hits such as Men in Black, Independence Day and Bad Boys. However, when it came time to hear Wachowski’s idea, the actor was disappointed and abandoned the project, opting for Wild, Wild West instead. As fate would have it, The Matrix was one of the greatest films of 1999 and Wild, Wild West came out with mixed reviews and as Smith himself admits, is considered to be one of his worst films. With the actor out of the picture, Neo’s part went to Keanu Reeves instead, elevating his career and preparing him for future successes like the John Wick franchise.
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Will Smith isn’t the only star who turned down a role in The Matrix. Pop star Madonna was recently revealed to have turned down a part in the project, also turning down offers for Batman Returns and Showgirls.
“The Matrix is one of the best movies ever made”, declared Madonna. “A very small part of me only regrets that moment in my life.”
The release of Matrix Resurrections in Italian cinemas is set for January 1, 2022. In the cast with Keanu Reeves also Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henrick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Jada Pinkett Smith.