Will Smith Says He’d Tell His Younger Self to Do ‘The Matrix’ Instead of ‘Wild Wild West’

Will Smith
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Will Smith isn't afraid to admit to a big regret from his younger days.

The 51-year-old leading man paid a visit to The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Monday to promote his new sci-fi thriller, Gemini Man, in which his character is pitted against a younger version of himself. This prompted the late-night host to ask Smith if he has any advice for Young Will.

"There's a certain naiveté to youth that is powerful, right? When you don't know something. Like, not knowing can be a real power 'cause… you're aggressive," Smith explained. "So, I feel like I would ask my young self for advice."

However, he later added: "I just thought of something I would tell myself. I would go, 'Hey man, don't do Wild Wild West.' I would say, 'Dude, do Neo! Do Neo!' 'Cause I got offered The Matrix."

At this point, the Ed Sullivan Theater erupted with boos, to which the actor fired back, "I know. Relax! Relax! How do you think I feel!?"

ET chatted with Smith at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last week, where he was also asked the same question and initially offered a very different response.

"Will in his twenties wasn't listening to nothing that nobody had to say, so I wouldn't tell his dumbass nothing," he said with a laugh. "But there were certain qualities that I had in my twenties that I have been trying to recover in the last couple of years."

"So young Will was wildly courageous to the level of foolishness," Smith continued. "But I would want to ask my younger self about the source of that courage because I've actually lost touch with that source. I have to manipulate it a little bit more than I used to."

While on the Late Show, Smith also discussed getting a soundstage named after him at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, which held its star-studded grand opening gala on Saturday.

"It was so beautiful… The soundstages are set on what used to be a Confederate Army base, you know," he said. "So, it's like, Tyler 20 years ago was homeless. So, for him to make that transition and to create this place and everybody that showed up, there was me and Halle Berry and Denzel [Washington] and Oprah [Winfrey]… It was really a spectacular evening."

The talk show visit isn't the first time the A-lister has admitted to some misgivings over turning down the role that made Keanu Reeves a superstar. In February, he released a YouTube video in which he broke down why the Wachowskis, the creators of The Matrix, failed to convince him to take the gig, admitting that the stunning 360-degree visuals they had in mind left him totally confused in the pitch meeting. 

However, when the Wachowskis geared up to make Reloaded and Revolutions, Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, quickly climbed aboard. And since August, when it was announced that a fourth film is in the works, ET chatted with the actress about returning to the dystopian universe.

"Well, I've had my conversations with Lana [Wachowski], so, you know, we'll see," the 47-year-old actress teased, referencing the upcoming film's director. "I think, you know… I think there might be some things on the horizon." 

Gemini Man drops in theaters on Friday.

See more on Smith and his family below.


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