Will Smith Nearly Didn’t Get Cast In Independence Day Because He Was Black

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 03 Jul 2021 13:51
Will Smith Nearly Didn't Get Cast In Independence Day Because He Was BlackPA/20th Century Fox

According to the director and writer of Independence Day, Will Smith almost wasn’t cast for the movie because of the colour of his skin.

The hit 1996 film made a staggering $817.4 million at the box office, so evidently the producers ultimately made the right call in casting Smith.


However, prior to its release, 20th Century Fox reportedly wasn’t very convinced that Smith was the right fit for the film.

Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day (20th Century Fox)20th Century Fox

Discussing the blockbuster for its 25th anniversary, director Roland Emmerich and writer Dean Devlin explained how the studio argued that Smith wouldn’t appeal ‘to a foreign audience’.

Emmerich told The Hollywood Reporter:


The studio said, ‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].’

Devlin added:

They said, ‘You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office].’ Our argument was, ‘Well, the movie is about space aliens. It’s going to do fine foreign.’ It was a big war, and Roland really stood up for [Smith] – and we ultimately won that war.

Emmerich continued, ‘I put my foot down [and said], ‘Universal people are calling every day, so give me [Smith and Jeff Goldblum] or I move over there.’ I don’t think it would have been a possibility, but it was a great threat.’

Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day (20th Century Fox)20th Century Fox

Not only did Independence Day rake in millions of dollars, it went on to win several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and a People’s Choice Award for Favourite Dramatic Movie.

Emmerich and Devlin wanted Smith to come back for the 2016 sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, though he turned down the opportunity.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Film and TV, Jeff Goldblum, Now, Will Smith


The Hollywood Reporter
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