Will Smith Says Wild Wild West Is His Worst Movie

What if you turned down the lead role as Neo in "The Matrix" to star in one of the biggest bombs of the year and perhaps one of the worst major blockbusters of all time? Sounds like a bonehead move, right? Well, what if you were also Will Smith, one of the most savvy movie stars of our generation known for generally picking great projects? Yeah, that's gotta hurt, and that's why Smith's revelation that he considers 1999's "Wild Wild West" his worst film during a recent GQ video feature is so loaded.

Keep in mind, by 1999 Will Smith had been on a box office tear unseen since the likes of Eddie Murphy a decade prior. For four years every movie he made was one of the biggest of the year: "Bad Boys," "Independence Day," "Men in Black," and "Enemy of the State." Those first three would go on to earn sequels, and "Enemy" was technically something of a covert sequel to "The Conversation." The idea of re-teaming Smith with his "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld on an adaptation of a '60s TV classic (Sonnenfeld had already done that hat trick twice with "The Addams Family") and co-starring with Oscar winner Kevin Kline, one of the most respected actors of the time? Sounds great on paper. Not so great in reality.

'A Thorn in My Side'

Here is Smith's exact quote from the video about what he considers to be his best and worst movies:

"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? 'Wild Wild West' is just a thorn in my side. To see myself with chaps... I don't like it."

So you can see the paradox right there: His best movie and his worst movie were directed by the same person. So what went wrong? Clearly it wasn't bad blood between Smith and Sonnenfeld, since the two went on to make a pair of "Men in Black" sequels together after making the steampunk Western dud. At times Smith has chalked it up to the fact that caucasian Robert Conrad played U.S. Army Captain Jim West in the TV show, and fans' tendency to be outraged when the races of characters are changed. There have also been reports that Smith and Kevin Kline did not gel on set the same way Smith did with Tommy Lee Jones on "MIB," with Kline admitting the reasons he signed on to replace George Clooney in the first place (i.e. money) were "indefensible." Ultimately, for whatever reason the event film didn't work, was critically panned and died the death at the box office. Smith knew it was bad, and that's why he stated his guilt in 2016 for "tricking" audiences into seeing it:

"I had so much success that I started to taste global blood and my focus shifted from my artistry to winning. I wanted to win and be the biggest movie star, and what happened was there was a lag — around 'Wild Wild West' time — I found myself promoting something because I wanted to win versus promoting something because I believed in it."