For turning down the job of Neo in The Matrix, Keanu Reeves thanks Will Smith. Reeves wound up starring in the 1999 film by the Wachowskis, which is today considered one of the greatest science-fiction movies at any point made. A third sequel named The Matrix Resurrections is set to release on December 22 after the original set of three concluded all the way back in 2003.
Now, in an interview with Esquire, Reeves thanks Smith for paving the way to his starring in The Matrix. He considers the film to have been extraordinary, both professionally and personally, and he speaks positively about the experience of making it. Considering that he’s about to feature in The Matrix Resurrections, he says, he’s extremely grateful to have scored the part:
Indeed, it changed my life. And, it was such a wonderful creative encounter, and so to play Neo in The Matrix set of three and now in the fourth… It impacted my life, personally and creatively. Thank you definitely.
For his part, Smith has said he ultimately doesn’t lament the decision to turn down The Matrix, as he believes Reeves was a preferable fit for the job over he would’ve been. The apparent tone of the film certainly would’ve been diverse with the alternate casting, considering that Smith was coming off an action-parody performance in Men in Black that might’ve encouraged audiences to take the Wachowski’s vision less seriously. The movie walks a thin line among cool and ridiculous, and without the careful chemistry achieved by the original creative team, it probably won’t be as very much recognized as it is.
Fans of The Matrix and of Reeves are surely just as grateful that things worked out as they did, since it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the job of Neo. Smith’s career has certainly not suffered for it, and he’s as of now getting Oscar buzz for his part in the sports biopic King Richard, which might actually land him his third nomination and first win. Reeves, meanwhile, is juggling the two most iconic roles of his career by returning for fourth installments of both The Matrix and John Wick franchises.