“I didn’t have to read anything”: Jada Pinkett Smith’s Strange Obsession Gave Her Free Pass in Keanu Reeves’ $1.7B Franchise That Was Turned Down by Will Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith's Strange Obsession Gave Her Free Pass in Keanu Reeves' $1.7B Franchise That Was Turned Down by Will Smith
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The Matrix franchise, renowned for its groundbreaking fusion of science fiction, profound philosophy, and pulse-pounding action, undeniably ranks among cinema’s most legendary creations. Yet concealed within its illustrious narrative lies a captivating tale of how Jada Pinkett Smith found herself immersed in this $1.7 billion phenomenon.

Jada Smith
Actress, Jada Pinkett Smith

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This journey unfolds as a consequence of an unparalleled obsession and a series of unforeseen twists, revealing an intriguing facet of cinematic history that many may find utterly captivating.


Jada Pinkett Smith’s Unexpected Entry Into The Matrix Franchise

In the enigmatic world of The Matrix, where the boundaries between reality and virtuality blur into an intricate dance, Jada Pinkett Smith embarked on a journey that transcended all expectations, infusing new life into this iconic science fiction saga.

Her entry into the Matrix universe is proof of the ironic oddities of fate that frequently steer Hollywood’s destiny.

For most, witnessing The Matrix on the silver screen is a mind-altering experience, and one can only fathom the sensations of those fortunate few who were among the first to lay eyes upon the script, attempting to reconcile its stunning and, at that time, unprecedented visuals.

Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith in The Matrix

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As an integral part of the series, Pinkett Smith has recalled her initial encounter with the script for the original movie, accompanied by storyboards that brought to mind the vivid essence of Japanese anime springing to life.

While today it’s inconceivable to imagine anyone other than Keanu Reeves as Neo in this sci-fi masterpiece, like many cinematic ventures, other actors were strongly contemplated for the role, including the esteemed Will Smith.


Although the iconic Men in Black star ultimately declined the offer, the future luminary of the Matrix, the 51-year-old, was handed the script for her husband’s consideration. It was a key moment, her first glimpse into the revolutionary world of the Matrix.

Reflecting on this, Pinkett Smith enthusiastically conveyed to the media that her profound passion for Japanese animation played a pivotal role in her Matrix journey, she said,

 “I’m a huge Japanese animation fan, so from then on, they had me. When they called me to play Niobe [for the 2003 sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions], I didn’t have to read anything. I was in.”

Yet, amidst the intriguing tale of Pinkett Smith’s entry into the franchise, a lingering question remains: why did Smith, despite being approached, decline the climactic role in The Matrix?


Why Did Will Smith Decline The Role Of Neo In The Matrix?

Will Smith
Actor, Will Smith

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Will Smith’s rejection of the role of Neo in The Matrix is an intriguing chapter in Hollywood lore. Back in 1999, when the Wachowskis guided the groundbreaking film, it soared to become a cinematic powerhouse, amassing millions in box office revenue and clinching four Oscars, including Best Sound, Film Editing, and Visual Effects.

Its impact resonated deeply with both aspiring filmmakers and devotees of the action and sci-fi genres, marking a cultural watershed.


Yet, amidst this meteoric rise, Smith’s key decision to forgo the iconic role left many pondering why. In a candid interview, the actor recounted the pitch he received from the then-relatively unknown Wachowskis.

They asked him to envision a gravity-defying fight scene as Neo, with cameras capturing every breathtaking leap and suspension in midair.

Smith, while acknowledging the Wachowskis’ genius, was unimpressed by the pitch. It heavily emphasized action, cinematography, and special effects.


He made a surprising choice, playing the campy and critically panned Wild Wild West, to avoid being typecast in sci-fi parts featuring otherworldly creatures like Independence Day and Men in Black.

In hindsight, Smith has expressed regret about this decision in the past, realizing the legacy he missed out on in the billion-dollar franchise.

Source: Entertainment Weekly


Written by Muskan Chaudhary

Articles Published: 694

Muskan Chaudhary, Junior Content Writer at Fandom wire. Having completed her degree in Commerce, she has written over 500 articles spanning FandomWire and Animated Times in the pop culture. She is dedicated to bring the latest and informative content from the entertainment world, thus expanding her knowledge in the field. Apart from her contributions to FandamWire, she has a keen interest in video games, sketching and playing tennis.