Will Smith Nearly Didn’t Get Cast In Independence Day Because He Was Black
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.
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].’
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.’
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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CreditsThe Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter