It’s long since gone down in Hollywood legend that Will Smith declined the role of Neo in The Matrix because he didn’t fully understand the script, opting to make Wild Wild West instead.
Of course, that turned out to be an awful move in hindsight, with Keanu Reeves headlining one of the greatest action and sci-fi movies of the modern era, while the former Fresh Prince saw his $170 million steampunk Western take a critical and commercial pounding.
The best thing about Wild Wild West by far is the theme song, which provides more entertainment in a few minutes that the film did in close to two hours. Smith isn’t terrible as James West, and he brings his usual charisma and presence to the role, but the majority of what surrounds him is irredeemably awful.
In a new interview with GQ where he reflected on his illustrious and massively successful career, Smith was asked to name the best and worst movies he thinks he’s ever been in, and there are no surprises for guessing what ended up at the bottom of the pile.
“For the best, I think it is a tie between the first Men in Black and The Pursuit of Happyness. For different reasons, those are the two almost perfect movies. Worst? I don’t know, Wild Wild West is just a thorn in my side. To see myself with chaps. I don’t like it.”
Wild Wild West sank at the box office after topping out with $220 million globally, going on to land eight Razzie ‘wins’ from twelve nominations, although Smith at least avoided the ignominy of making the shortlist for Worst Actor.