A new fan trailer imagines what The Matrix would look like if Will Smith had accepted the role of Neo. The Wachowski’s ground-breaking sci-fi changed the game when it was released in 1999, bringing kung-fu action and big philosophical ideas to what had become a tired genre and turning already-superstar Keanu Reeves into an icon. Its sequels were considerably less well-received, although they’ve done nothing to dull the legacy of the original and, unsurprisingly, Warner Bros. are now trying to figure out a way to reboot.
The whole thing could have looked very different at one point. Russell Crowe and (allegedly) Sean Connery were both offered the role of Morpheus, while most young actors in Hollywood were considered for Neo. Perhaps the most famous almost-ran is Will Smith; the break-out star of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Independence Day and Men in Black was approached about playing the lead, but turned it down to instead star in Wild Wild West. This fascinating alt-casting has captured fans’ imaginations since, and now we have an idea of what exactly it might have looked like.
YouTube editor The Unusual Suspect has put together a trailer for The Matrix that imagines Will Smith in the lead, using a mixture of integrated clips and composited models from his other films. Check it out above.
The video doesn’t just realize a long-discussed possibility but does it in a clever, well-edited manner – it’s based on the main one used in 1999 with some modern beat updates. Films from all across Smith’s filmography are used – everything, from I Am Legend to Men in Black 3 – and all feel like they belong in the action (helped in part by some accurate color grading to match the film’s green-hued aesthetic). Most impressive are the moments where Smith actually interacts with the Carrie-Anne Moss, Lawrence Fishburne, and co. It would have been cool to see Smith playing off Connery as Morpheus for the ultimate alt-cast trailer, but that may have been too much.
Smith’s decision to ultimately go with gigantic box office bomb Wild Wild West over The Matrix was motivated by his confusion over the story. While that’s certainly a regrettable choice and one that could have easily changed his career trajectory, it’s not something the actor has appeared too worried about since, admitting that regardless of understanding he wasn’t the right fit for the role. That said, the trailer shows how his typical demeanor could have worked.
This isn’t the only actor-replacement The Unusual Suspect has done – he’s previously imagined what Spectre would have looked like with Pierce Brosnan to similarly effective results.
Source: The Unusual Suspect