Will Smith comments on turning down Django Unchained: “I needed to be the lead”

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Both Will Smith and Quentin Tarantino have spoken publicly about the casting for DJANGO UNCHAINED, neither ever expressing bad blood about the process, which eventually led to Jamie Foxx taking on the role of Django.  Smith was in the middle of MEN IN BLACK III when approached by Tarantino for the role and has been quoted as saying:

“I came really close, it was one of the most amazing screenplays I had ever ever seen. I was in the middle of ‘Men In Black 3’ and [Tarantino] was ready to go, and I just couldn’t sit with him and get through the issues, so I didn’t want to hold him up. That thing’s going to be ridiculous. It is a genius screenplay.”

Tarantino confirmed as much, saying:

We spent quite a few hours together over a weekend when he was in New York doing MEN IN BLACK III… I think half the process was an excuse for us to hang out and spend time with one anothe.  It just wasn’t 100 percent right, and we didn’t have time to try to make it that way.”

Now, Will Smith has dropped a little more information about why he was apprehensive to take on the role of Django, which ultimately seemed to come down to the size of the part and who got to kill “the” bad guy:

“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!

Apparently, Smith even pleaded with Tarantino to make Django more central to the story, which would have cut back on Christoph Waltz‘s Dutch Schultz, who actually took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the role. But, in the end, Smith was more concerned with Django having very specific revenge, rather than what played out:

“I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’”

There’s still no bad blood or ill will it seems, as neither Smith or Tarantino have devolved to trash talk over it.  Although Smith is adament about his non-involvement, I’m willing to bet he kicks himself a little for not taking the part. However, that’s a common thing, as we all know that actors turn down roles frequently, that end up becoming major hits.  In the end, you can’t win ’em all. Smith has seen the film, though, and had this to say:

“I thought it was brilliant. Just not for me.”

You can preorder DJANGO UNCHAINED on blu-ray/DVD/digital download here, which is out on April 16, 2013.  Will Smith will next be seen in M. Night Shyamalan’s AFTER EARTH on June 7, 2013.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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