In 2011, director Quentin Tarantino openly courted Will Smith to play the title character in Django Unchained. However, Smith ultimately passed on the role and Jamie Foxx took over the part of Django. The film went on to become Tarantino’s biggest box office hit to date.
During his recent appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Actor Roundtable, Smith offered an explanation as to why he turned down the offer to star in Django Unchained. “I had said yes to Django, but it was more about the creative direction of the story,” said Smith. “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 and I couldn’t see [eye to eye]. I wanted to make the greatest love story that African-Americans had ever seen from American cinema. But with that story, I felt that the only way I could make that movie is it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story.”
Smith added that “We can’t look at what happens in Paris [the terrorist attacks] and want to f— somebody up for that. Violence begets violence. I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.”
That doesn’t entirely track with Smith’s previous explanation about why he turned down the role. Back in 2013, Smith told Entertainment Weekly that “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead! I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'” But it’s entirely possible that Smith’s perspective has changed in the four years since his initial conversations with Tarantino about the role.
Would you have preferred to see Smith’s take on the Django Unchained storyline? Saddle up, and leave a comment below!
Image Credit: Warner Bros./Peters Entertainment