Even the biggest movie stars aren’t exempt from regrets in terms of their personal or professional lives. For Will Smith, it’s a massive one.
At the peak of his career, the actor turned down the chance to play Neo in The Matrix (1999). As we all know, it ultimately went to Keanu Reeves and it’s quite difficult to imagine anyone playing the iconic role apart from him. Now, Smith admits that if he could go back in time, he’d definitely kick himself for choosing to do 1999’s Wild Wild West instead.
Smith made the confession during a red carpet interview with Jake Hamilton on the premiere of Gemini Man. Hamilton asked the actor about which past movie set he’d go back to and give his younger self career advice. In response, Smith said:
“Yeah, probably Wild Wild West. I’d go back to the Wild Wild West and I would say, ‘Asshole, why didn’t you do The Matrix?’”
Indeed, that’s a decision that will probably haunt Smith for the rest of his acting career. Almost as big of a mistake as Matt Damon passing up on James Cameron’s Avatar, but that’s a story for another day.
To be fair, very few people were able to visualize the potential cultural impact of The Matrix at the time. However, after appearing in a string of summer blockbusters, it was Wild Wild West the killed Smith’s box office streak. So it’s completely understandable that he regrets turning down the opportunity to star in the seminal sci-fi thriller.