Will Smith was worried about the future of his career and did not want to get typecast as the sci-fi guy.
Will Smith was nearly Neo in the “The Matrix”. This was a Hollywood legend that went unexplained for years. Smith recently went on the record to clear up why he chose not to star in “The Matrix” and it basically centered around being typecast.
What is great about the video is how candid Smith is with his acting process. He was trying to work on bigger and bigger projects so he had to be selective about what movies he would work on next. In fact, it took a call from Steven Spielberg to get him in “Men in Black”. By the time “The Matrix” hit theaters, he was appearing in major feature films and he probably thought “Wild Wild West” would have been a hit movie. Unfortunately, it was not.
“After we made Men in Black, [The Matrix directors] the Wachowskis, they came in and it was like they only did one movie – I think it was called Bound – and they came in and they did a pitch for The Matrix.…As it turns out, they’re geniuses, but there’s a fine line in a pitch meeting between genius and what I experienced in the meeting…Dude, we’re thinking like, imagine you’re in a fight, and then you, like, jump,’” Smith says. “‘Imagine if you could stop jumping in the middle of the jump. But then people could see around you 360 while you’re jumping, while you’ve stopped jumping. And then, we’re gonna invent these cameras, and then people can see the whole jump while you’re stopping in the middle of the jump.”
You can not blame Smith for passing on ”The Matrix.” Pitching a project is an important part of the filmmaking process and it is what convinces movie stars and producers to do the project and if you do not have a major name producing the movie to back you up, you have to work on clearly communicating your idea so others are interested.