Will Smith reveals why he really turned down Django Unchained: 'I don't believe in violence as the reaction to violence'

Smith referenced the recent Paris terrorist attacks when discussing his attitude to violence and revenge

Will Smith passed up the lead role in Django Unchained to do Men in Black instead
Will Smith passed up the lead role in Django Unchained to do Men in Black instead

He said at the time that the part simply wasn’t big enough but nearly three years later, Will Smith has elaborated on his reasons for turning down the lead role in Oscars hit Django Unchained.

Quentin Tarantino offered the titular character to Smith but the director and actor “couldn’t see eye to eye” on the creative direction of the story.

Jamie Foxx ended up playing the revenge-seeking former slave while Smith opted for Men in Black instead, claiming that he passed the role up because he thought Christoph Waltz’s bounty hunter would steal the limelight. He watched the film, which grossed $425 million globally, and described it as “brilliant, just not for me”.

Smith has now revealed that the size of the part (interestingly Waltz ended up winning Best Supporting Actor, not Best Leading Actor) was of lesser consequence to him than his own strong principles regarding violence.

Speaking at The Hollywood Reporter’s annual actor roundtable, Smith explained that although the idea of a man learning how to kill so he can rescue his wife from slavery is “perfect”, his vision did not line up with Tarantino’s.

“I wanted to make the greatest love story that African Americans had ever seen,” he said. “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.”

Smith added that he does not “believe in violence as the reaction to violence” before referencing the Paris terrorist attacks, which led to the deaths of 130 people earlier this month.

“We can’t look at what happens in Paris and want to f**k somebody up for that,” he said. “Violence begets violence. I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.”

Predictably, Tarantino, who is known for bloody violence galore in his movies, disagreed with Smith and the discussions came to an end. Django went on to notch up a body count of 64.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

It remains to be seen how much violence Smith’s upcoming supervillain movie Suicide Squad will involve when it arrives in UK cinemas on 5 August 2016.

His next film, sport biopic Concussion, will go head to head with Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight upon its release on Christmas Day this year.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in