It probably would have been a very different movie indeed if Will Smith played the revenge seeking former slave in Django Unchained instead of Jamie Foxx but, believe it or not, that was the original plan.
At the time, Smith claimed he turned down the chance to play the titular character in the film because the part simply wasn’t big enough for him but, three years on, the 47-year-old has elaborated on his real reasons for not taking on the lead role.
Quentin Tarantino offered the part to the former Fresh Prince but Smith says he and the director “couldn’t see eye to eye” on the creative direction of the story, while also voicing concerns that Christoph Waltz’s bounty hunter would end up stealing the limelight in the movie.
Speaking at The Hollywood Reporter’s annual actor roundtable, Smith revealed that his decision not to do the movie was less about the size of the part and more to do with his own strong principles regarding violence and its depiction on the big screen.
Although Smith loved the “perfect” idea of a man learning how to kill in order to rescue his wife from slavery, he wanted it to be a love story rather than a revenge movie.
I wanted to make the greatest love story that African Americans had ever seen. 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.
We can’t look at what happens in Paris and want to fuck somebody up for that. Violence begets violence. I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.
And, with a body count of 64, the finished movie ended up being very violent indeed!
In the end, Smith said the film – which grossed $425 million (£280m) globally and earned Waltz an Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ – was “brilliant, just not for me”.
It’s particularly interesting that Smith’s comments come ahead of his role as Deadshot in Suicide Squad next year, given that it looks like a pretty violent supervillain movie to us.
Meanwhile, Tarantino’s next flick The Hateful Eight hits cinemas on Christmas Day. We don’t think that one will be about love either…