Will Smith's personality and talent have played a major role in his success, but much of his superstardom was built on a framework of shrewd business moves. It hasn’t always worked out and every now and then he’s tripped up. For every Independence Day or Pursuit of Happyness, there’s been a critically panned Wild Wild West.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smith revealed he didn’t take the lead role Quentin Tarantino wrote for him in Django Unchained because it wasn’t prominent enough.
Smith, who teams with his son Jaden in this summer’s sci-fi epic After Earth, tells EW that he turned down the part because his character would’ve been second fiddle to the bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) who teaches Django his trade . “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” says the Men in Black star, whose departure opened the door for Jamie Foxx to play the role.
Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’” (Ironically, Waltz was considered a supporting actor during his Oscar-winning award season, while Jamie Foxx was promoted as the movie’s lead.)
But no hard feelings: Smith was a big fan of the final product. “I thought it was brilliant,” he says. “Just not for me.”
SPOILER ALERT: In case you haven't seen Django, Smith is referring to the climactic scene where Waltz's character, Dr. Schultz shoots and kills Dicaprio's, Calvin Candle. Smith is Hollywood’s Kobe Bryant(which makes Jamie Foxx Dwyane Wade). He's a shooter from Philly that likes to have his supporting cast clear the lane, while he handles the rock in iso situations.
The problem with Django's script is that, in his opinion, it didn't allow him to steal the film's most memorable scene. He literally wanted to take the big shot for the same reason Bryant won’t pass on the final possession of a tie game. He obviously has lofty standards. After all, he did spend an hour and a half talking to a dog in I Am Legend.
It’s also not the first time Smith has copped to turning down a classic role. The Fresh Prince turned down the role of Neo in 1999’s The Matrix while Jada Pinkett would have played Trinity so that he could star in the aforementioned flop, Wild Wild West.