Will Smith Finally Reveals Why He Turned Down Django Unchained: ‘I Needed to be the Lead’

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Will SmithWill Smith is finally speaking openly on why he turned down the starring role in DJango Unchanined, leaving the role open for Jamie Foxx.

It was widely reported that Smith read the script, discussed it with Tarantino, but turned it down. Until now, however, no one knew exactly what conversations Smith had with Tarantino or why he chose not to take the part.

In a previous interview with Empire magazine, Smith confirmed his conversation with Tarantino, but did not address any particular disagreement:

“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.”

In an After Earth  interview with  Entertainment Weekly, Will Smith reveals that he turned down Django Unchained because he didn’t want to play the sidekick  to the bounty hunter 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!’”

What do you think? Was this a smart call for Smith? Should Foxx have made a similar demand of Tarantino?


26 Comment

  1. I agree with Will Smith. The movie is entitled “Django” and the character who plays Django should be the lead. I was hoping for a deeper reason for not playing Django – such as slavery, the incessant use of the n-word, the brutality of slavery. Will Smith is my favorite and I think I would have looked at him differently if he took this role. Jamie Foxx is an Oscar winner and should have made the same demands.

  2. I’m glad he turned it down! Jaime was AWESOME!
    Will would have been terrible.

  3. Will Smith has a lot of respect for himself as an accomplished actor who draws people and their money to the box office. If he is going to play second fiddle, then he must play second to one who draws in more far than he does. The day may come when he may consider the lesser roles. But that time is hardly now.

  4. I saw the movie for free b/c I was not going to spend a cent of the suffering of my great, great four fathers while others whose fore fathers who the hard core Slave traders were making a profit out of it.
    Watching the movies Django Unchained , it remains of the late AL-Hajj Malik EL-Shabazz (Malcolm X) while reading his Autobiography by Alex Haley. In the book he explained the life of the House slave and Field Slave and I can see this in the movie. Samuel L Jackson’s character as the house slave, Mr. Jackson did a good Job portraying a house slave. I hated that character in the movie with a million of “N words” been spilled out in every sentence and I like the way he ended in the movie.
    Any black person who has a good grasp of black history and the African slave trade would be very sensitive to such a movie like that and Brother Will Smith is one of them. I now understand why brother spike Lee stayed away from the movie.
    Brother Will smith and Spike Lee are right. Why? Because the Trans Atlantic Slave trade and the suffering of Africans in the new world IS NOT A WESTERN SPAGHETTI and should not be treated as such.
    Most African Americans do not understand this, as stated bother Spike Lee. I was very surprised that so many black people came down on Spike Lee so hard.
    As I stated before in this Blog, the difference between Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino is that, Quentin Tarantino is a Hollywood insiders while spike Lee is an outsider. Quentin Tarantino comes from a community of people that own and control Hollywood. He can use the N word a million times or downplay the events of Slavery to a WESTERN SPAGHETTI that would never affect his Hollywood Career in a negative way. On the other hand Spike Lee would never dear down play the events of WW2 and how it affects the Jews community or say anything derogatory against Jews in any of his movies. That will be the end of Spike Lee’s Hollywood career and Spike Lee knows that too.
    QUESTION: IF SPIKE LEE HAD MADE A WESTERN SPAGETTY ABOUT WW2 HOLOCAUST, DO YOU THINK JEWS WOULD HAVE SUPPORTED THAT MOVEIW LIKE THE WAY WE SUPPORTED “Django Unchained”? If you answer is no, then you need to apologize to Spike Lee because he has a better understanding of Black History than you and also know the power structure of Hollywood and how they use movies to brain wash people.
    BRAVO BROTHER WILL SMITH YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. Just like you usually do, for example, you & Opera Help Spike Lee by donating large sum of money to fund the movie Malcolm X thereby making it possible to tell our history in a black perspective. If you haven’t seen the movie Malcolm X please try and see it, may be Net Flicks.

  5. Brother Jamie Foxx played a good role.Lets praise him and support him. Brother Will Smith also did well what he chose to do was his choice, but God or Olodumare works in Mysterious ways, it was for Brother Jamie and so it was. Brother Samuel L Jackson also played a good Uncle Tom role.The things they played and worse actually were done to African people by the slave masters, this should make all people aware of the traumas that African people have suffered up to this day and the damage than was done to the captors as well.

    • Thanks for the knowledge, and the history lesson.

  6. I believe that Will Smith was wrong. The first part of the movie showed that the German dentist was playing the central role because he was teaching Django. Later Django emerged as the lead character. After all the dentist was killed and Django lived.

  7. Love Smith and foxx, love the decisions, they have made and continue to make

  8. We should all wish to be so expert in our endeavors that we are passing up opportunities. Will Smith is brilliant and I, for one, am glad he wasn't available.

  9. I think Will Smith made the right call as an "A" List celebrity to drop out of the film. The role of Django needed to be beefed up for a talent of Will Smith's stature, which would have reshaped Quentin Tarantino' s vision as how his film should be. Why at this stage of Will Smith's career would he want to play second fiddle in a picture of this type, a Black exploitation slave movie no less?

    I get why Tarantino wanted the characters presented as they were, because if Will Smith or Jamie Foxx were allowed to play the Django role as Will Smith wanted to play it, it might not go over as well with White audiences that are not yet ready for a film with that kind of dynamic, especially with Will Smith in the lead. It's hard to imagine the Fresh Prince of Bel Air as Nat Turner! In real life Django would not have been in the lead as a Black Man in those times, as the story was presented to us. Yet when has Hollywood ever been concerned with historical accuracy when applied to people of color anyway? Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra? Please!

    I remember watching White men with red faced make up play American Indians in many a Western flick. Especially if the lead character was a respected and well known Indian leader such as Geronimo, or Chief Sitting Bull. Can someone say Burt Lancaster?

    To me, it's not the issue the movie was crafted Will's way or Tarantino's way as a cinematic work. It's who gets to usually make the final call as to how people of colro are portrayed in film that is important. Those decisions are made in those power lunch meetings, and the cutting room floor, that Black fold rarely have access to. That's where the real power lies. Who gets to have the final say so, as to how the characters are presented to the movie goer. More times as not, it's not a person of color, and that's what of importance to movie goers where the color line has been strictly delineated by the usual stereotypes that people of color must endure to see themselves in a Hollywood whose main color they worship is green first.

  10. Will made a choice and I respect it. The movie, Django was great!

  11. The truth is -Will Smith considered the plot beneath him. He think he is too good to play a slave. Has he played any roles that displayed the ills of the past for Blacks? NO! Jamie Fox is a fabulous actor, comedian and singer. Will Smith is a talentless actor that is and was chosen by mainstream America. I do not watch his movies because they seem unimportant, that is just my opinion.

  12. You were absolutely right Will! If it was a so-called black story, then Jamie's roll should have been the the lead character.

  13. There are no coincidences and Will did just what he was supposed to do and Jamie made it his own and it was great – It Was Genius!

  14. Will made the right call, and I salute him for wanting to advance the cause by not playing the 'sidekick'. All of us can't go lying down. Someone has to stand up….

  15. He who pays the Piper continues to call tune. Imagine the combined wealth of Black people in America coming together to do some good: Movies, Entertainment projects, Sports, Commerce, Education and the like? We continue to hold ourselves back, because of the lack of unity….

  16. I believe this role wasn't meant for him, is when meant for Jamie Foxx. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and couldn't see Will Smith playing Django.

  17. I could've sworn Jamie WAS the lead! Check this out, if he wasn't… who was? what was the guys name? If you can't say the name (real name) off the top of your head – the guy wasn't lead – Jamie was. U know how I know? Cuz I forgot all about the other guy!

    • I agree Sis, why would Will even address this? Jamie Fox is the lead, when it was advertised the "other guy" was not mentioned, not that I could recall. Jamie was first "star" to be shown and the only one to survive, how much more of a lead could you ask for?

    • Fa Sho'!! That's right sis!

  18. Who gives a hoot? Will has his ego, and that's that.

  19. lol will could not have done a better job than jamie .jamie was right man for the job

  20. What movie was he looking at Jamie Foxx WAS the lead
    actor, his name was first on the markee, and first in all the
    advertisment that I saw, plus he live to get his woman and
    took care of business. The actor that won the oscar (Waltz)
    won for best supporting actor, supporting actor is not the
    lead actor.

  21. I'm glad he didn't take the role cuz my nigga Jamie played perfectly. A lil advice to Will Smith you don't have to play the lead all the time nigga ur the sidekick in all three men in black movies think about it. Jamie was better for the role anyways

  22. I saw Django and even bought the DVD. Tarrintino did a good job of showing the ugly side of slavery, but made a slave the hero. For the individual who the comment that Jews wouldn’t have supported a movie the way we supported Django has never seen Inglorious Basterds. That was set during the Nazi era. It also showed the ugly side but several people (both Jewish and non) were the heroes. I don’t recall from the Jewish community getting their panties in a bunch (maybe there was but every Jewish person I’ve spoken to about the movie loved it). If Spike Lee or John Singleton or Antoine Fuqar, etc had made that movie, it would be so quiet you could hear a mouse pissing on an ice cube.

  23. I'm glad will turned it down because he couldn't pull it off like Jamie did!

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