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Will Smith Was Offered Role In Django Unchained, Actor Reveals Petty Reason He Turned Down Role

Over the span of his very successful, illustrious career, Will Smith has been catapulted in various starring roles in many a blockbuster film.  The actor has been cast in multiple big-budget films from the 90s until currently and continues to propel himself to higher heights.  Part of growing in one’s career is knowing their value in what they bring forward to the table in any project, and Smith has recently revealed that he’s turned down a major role doing just that.

Coming off of his first major film role, the drama Six Degrees of Separation, Smith was cast alongside actor and comedian Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys, which was a commercial success.  He would go on to star in the films such as Men in Black, Independence Day, and Enemy Of The State, all becoming highly successful, while Smith’s performance would also be praised.

Throughout his career, the actor has taken many chances.  Smith spoke with The Hollywood Reporter where he addressed how he deals with fear in order to achieve his goals.  “I’m trying to develop a more realistic perspective of what this business is,” he stated. “I told my mother this the other day, and she thought it was hilarious. I said: “When I was 15 years old, my first girlfriend cheated on me. And I remember making a decision that nobody would ever cheat on me again. And the way I was going to do that was by being the biggest actor on Earth,” right? So there’s been this weird psychology that I have always felt like: If my movies are number one, my life is going to work out great.

Smith would be offered the role of a lifetime as “Neo” in what would become the phenomenon The Matrix.  However, it was revealed that he turned the role down and chose to participate in Wild Wild West instead.  Smith has said in interviews that he has “no regrets” in his decision because although Wild Wild West turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment, he believed that Keanu Reeves was born to play that role.  “That’s the role Keanu was born to play. When I watch the movie and I see the choices he made, there are a hundred occasions when I think, ‘I would have messed that up.’”  the actor stated.

Smith’s films would eventually lead him to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors.  The Pursuit of Happyness actor would, later on, be offered another role in Quentin Tarantino’s hugely successful Django Unchained, however, it was not the role that would best suit him, especially at the stage of his career that he has reached.  While participating in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual “Actor Roundtable” he offered up a further explanation as to why he made the decision to turn the role down in the film.

“It was about the creative direction of the story,” he said while expressing that he wanted to avoid the topic altogether. “To me, it’s as perfect a story as you could ever want: a guy that learns how to kill to retrieve his wife that has been taken as a slave. That idea is perfect. And it was just that Quentin [Tarantino] and I couldn’t see [eye to eye]. I wanted to make the greatest love story that African-Americans had ever seen.”

Smith said that he and Tarantino discussed options for his involvement in the film, but in the end, couldn’t get past the overall theme of the film.  “We talked, we met, we sat for hours and hours about it. I wanted to make that movie so badly, but I felt the only way was, it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story,” Smith confessed. “I don’t believe in violence as the reaction to violence. So when I’m looking at that, it’s like: “No, no, no. It has to be for love.” We can’t look at what happens in Paris [the terrorist attacks] and want to f— somebody up for that. Violence begets violence. So I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.”

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, he also gave another reason as to why he didn’t accept the role.  “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” he exclaimed.  The role ultimately went to Jamie Foxx, and the film became Tarantino’s highest-grossing film and won numerous awards and nominations, including two Academy Awards.  

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