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Will Smith calls one role he turned down the ‘one that got away’

By Amelia Accardo | Contributing writer for Telegraph Local

On an episode of The Tonight Show, Will Smith went through all of his past and recent works in one amazing rap duet with Jimmy Fallon.  The rap was titled, “The History of Will Smith.” The actor and rapper covered his work from The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air to Independence Day. At the end of the rap, Smith realized that he has had a great career. He said to Fallon, “I had a nice little run.” Smith adds that he does not have many regrets except for one role that “got away.”

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Fallon began the rap with, “You seen him on Billboards, starring in shows.” He adds, “But there’s a lot about him that you might not know.” The two went back and forth, with Smith rapping “Six whole years I lived with the Banks/So if you can dance the Carlton, I still give thanks/But a real big star needs a real big screen/So I had to spread my wings, if you know what I mean.”

The Hollywood star revealed why he turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix. He explains the reason on his  YouTube Channel called “Story Time.” In his three-minute clip, he said that the directors and writers described the franchise in a confusing way. Everyone knows the famous scene where Reeves dodges bullets in slow motion but as the directors attempted to describe it to Smith, he just couldn’t see it.

Turns out that Aladdin’s genie was turning down blockbusters films left and right. Smith originally turned down the $600 million hit Men In Black. After he filmed Independence Day, The Fresh Prince did not want to be known as, “the alien guy.” Then Steven Spieldberg called to talk some sense into the star, “Um, do me a favor. Don’t use your brain for this one. Use my brain.” So, Smith based his decision on doing the film since Spieldberg did produce Jaws. 

Smith explains that he had “The Matrix first.” He famously turned down the role of Neo to star in Wild Wild West.  Smith adds, “It was better this way, if I was Neo, Morpheus wouldn’t have been black.” The film he chose instead ended up being one of his biggest flops of his career. Smith owns up to his mistake and confesses that he is not proud of his decision.

Even though he’s unhappy with what he chose, he thinks that Keanu Reeves was the best fit for the cast. Smith felt that if he had taken the roll, it wouldn’t of turned out so well. Will explains that he, “would of messed the movie up, I did y’all a favor.” He expresses how the Wachowski’s explained the 360 scene in away he just could not understand, but then later on described them as “geniuses.”

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Even though Smith regrets his decision of turning down The Matrix, he thinks that he made the right decision for all  fans of the famous franchise. Smith explained in his “Story Time” episode that Val Kilmer was another choice for the character Neo. Even though he thinks him and Kilmer would of been good for the role, he describes Reeves as “perfect.”

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