Every actor has a movie that they wish they hadn’t appeared in and Will Smith is no exception to the rule. While there are a number of movies that have been panned by critics over his career, it seems that Smith himself has one movie that stands out above the others as his biggest regret. Taking part in GQ’s “Actually Me,” which saw Smith chatting undercover with social media users, a Quora user asked, “In your opinion, what is the worst and best movie of Will Smith?” Smith seemed to have an easy answer for both sides of the question in his response.
“For the best, I think it’s a tie between the first Men in Black and The Pursuit of Happiness. For different reasons, those are the two almost-perfect movies. The worst? I don’t know, Wild Wild West is a thorn in my side. To see myself in chaps… I don’t like it.”
It is not unfair to say that Wild Wild West was destroyed by critics when it was released in the late 1990s, but in addition to that, it was also the film that Smith decided to do which saw him turn down Keanu Reeves’ role of Neo in The Matrix. Ouch, indeed. On the plus side, Wild Wild West gave Smith a hit single with the title track, so at least he can take some consolation from that, even though that clearly isn’t enough to stop him from remembering the movie for all the wrong reasons. Smith has also previously expressed his negative opinions on the movie.
The 1999 steampunk western was a very loose take on the 60s series The Wild Wild West, which itself had a TV movie in 1980 called More Wild Wild West. On paper, the film seemed to be a guaranteed hit, with Will Smith appearing alongside Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh and Salma Hayek and under the direction of Men in Black helmer Barry Sonnenfeld. However the story of two U.S. Secret Service agents who have to work together to protect President Ulysses S. Grant from various threats in the setting of the Old West, just didn’t grab the attention of the public and landed on the wrong side of many critics’ sharp tongues when it hit cinemas. It has also been named as one of the most unwatchable TV to movie adaptations.
With a budget of $170 million, a figure that made it one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time adjusting for inflation, box office receipts only totaled $222 million making it a financial failure. In addition to that, the film found itself in the sights of the Raspberry Awards where it won five of its eight nominations including Worst Picture and Worst Original Song. It is no surprise therefore that the movie currently holds a 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a consensus of “Bombastic, manic, and largely laugh-free, Wild Wild West is a bizarre misfire in which greater care was lavished upon the special effects than on the script.”
While Will Smith has managed to redeem himself over and over again in the two decades since Wild Wild West tarnished his run of 90s success, it is clear that the memory of the movie’s failure still sticks with him. You can next check him out in the the new biopic King Richard, which hits theaters and HBO Max on Nov. 19.