Jet Li was almost a "Matrix" character if not for a bump in the road.
While Jet Li was busy crossing over in the American market as a premier martial artist and actor during the early 2000s, notably landing roles in films like Romeo Must die, Lethal Weapon 4,The One, and Unleashed, he recently revealed that he passed on arguably one of the era's biggest martial arts movies for a very valid reason.
According to Li, The Wachowskis actively pursued him for a role in the sequels for The Matrix, offering him the character of Seraph in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolution, but he ultimately turned down the role that would eventually go to Collin Chou.
According to Li he turned down Serpah because he didn't want his moves to be stolen by a machine.
"I realized the Americans wanted me to film for three months but be with the crew for nine,” Li explained while appearing on a Chinese talk show. “And for six months, they wanted to record and copy all my moves into a digital library. By the end of the recording, the right to these moves would go to them.”
According to Li, digitizing his moves would essentially give others free reign to replicate his sequences in the future even when he could no longer do them himself.
"I was thinking: I’ve been training my entire life. And we martial artists could only grow older," he adds. "Yet they could own [my moves] as an intellectual property forever,” Li said. “So I said I couldn’t do that.”
Nonetheless, if you've missed Jet Li on the big screen, you'll be able to catch him some time in the near future as he is set to appear in the live-action remake of Disney's Mulan. There are no guarantees that you'll get to hear him flex his vocals, though. Earlier in the year, director Niki Caro revealed that the remake would focus more on the action and martial arts aspect rather than the musical elements highlighted in the animated film, much to the chagrin of our childhood.