Actor and martial artist Jet Li recently revealed in an interview (translation here) the real reason he turned down the role of Seraph in The Matrix trilogy: he was concerned over how Warner Bros. might use his motion capture performance in the future.
Here are Li’s full comments on why he turned down the role:
“It was a commercial struggle for me. I realized the Americans wanted me to film for three months but be with the crew for nine. 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. I was thinking: I’ve been training my entire life. And we martial artists could only grow older. Yet they could own [my moves] as an intellectual property forever. So I said I couldn’t do that.”
Li smartly understood that his physical performance was his “intellectual property” and that the filmmakers wanted to digitally capture and record his IP, opening up the potential that his moves could be re-used in the future without his permission.