INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE: Why Will Smith Opted Out

     June 24, 2015

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The Independence Day sequel, now officially titled Independence Day: Resurgence, is bringing back Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner, so it’s especially tough to overlook Will Smith’s absence. After the live portion of Monday’s Q&A, Roland Emmerich and the cast hung around to answer a handful of questions from the press on set and someone asked Emmerich about Smith’s choice to pass. Here’s what he said:

“Well, you know, like near the very beginning, I wanted to work with him and he was very excited to be in it, but then after a while, you know, he just was tired of sequels and he did another science fiction film, which was his father-son story, so he opted out. I was first very disappointed, but then actually a couple friends told me, ‘Well, this could be a great chance to try something new,’ and I said, ‘Hm, maybe I should.’ It took me three years to figure that one out, but actually at the end I figured it out and now it’s like a handover. We deal with the disappearance of Will Smith – I don’t want to give it away – but in a very kind of respectful manner and he’s still part of this universe, but it’s mainly kind of a little bit a handover from the old generation to the new.”


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Image via Twentieth Century Fox/AP Images

One member of this new generation is Jessie Usher who scored the role of a grown up Dylan Dubrow, Jasmine Dubrow’s son (Fox) and Steven Hiller’s stepson. During the Q&A, Usher recalled hearing about the role through an acquaintance at the gym:

“Long time ago, the agent who is representing me now, Ken Stovitz, was Will Smith’s agent and he was with him throughout the process, the first Independence Day and a lot of projects that he did way back when, and then they left to do other things. Anyways, jump to now, I’m signed with Ken for about a year and a half, and that’s right around the time, maybe a little later, that I met Harold who’s sitting here in the front row at the gym. We had the same trainer. He did a session and then I would come into the gym right after him so I kind of met him in passing, and then I heard through the trainer and then from Harold that he was soon to be working on Independence Day 2 and, you know, of course that was exciting news for me. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! Will Smith’s my career idol,’ this and that. ‘Can you put me in the movie?’ They’re like, ’Of course.’ It was like a little joke sort of and then cut to now and it’s not so much of a joke anymore. Thank you Harold. Thank you Roland.”


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Image via Twentieth Century Fox/AP Images

And that’s not the only huge coincidence that happened during the casting process for Usher:

“There was a call that came in the day that Fox reached out to my agency, Paradigm, and wanted to let them know that they wanted to offer me the role and it just so happened to be the day before the Los Angeles premiere of Focus, so Will Smith was in Los Angeles visiting my agent to catch up I guess, I don’t know why, and then he picks up the phone and there’s Will Smith standing in his office as he accepts the offer for me to do this movie.”

Think that’s a sign Usher’s casting was meant to be? I’ve never seen any of his previous work, but he certainly had no problem charming the press on set so I’m hopeful that he can match the charisma that made us all root for Captain Hiller in the original film.

Independence Day: Resurgence hits theaters on June 24, 2016. You can check out the rest of our Q&A coverage below. I’ll have much more to share from set closer to the release.

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Image via 20th Century Fox


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