Will Smith was Quentin Tarantino‘s first choice to play Django in Django Unchained. It was a great opportunity for the actor to finally take a chance in his safe career, but he decided to pass on the role. In November, Tarantino said that while he met with Smith, “It just wasn’t 100 percent right, and we didn’t have time to try to make it that way.” Smith is slightly notorious for coming in and rewriting scripts, but no one gets to rewrite Tarantino.
Smith has now commented on his side of the story, and why he chose to pass on the Oscar-winning picture. Hit the jump for more.
Speaking to EW, Smith says, “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” The actor went on to say, “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'”
This kind of disconnect ultimately makes me glad that Smith passed. Django Unchained was a huge opportunity to take a step forward in his career, and away from carefully crafted safe pictures designed to net him either major box office or awards consideration. Django may have pulled in the latter, but it’s not the typical “nice/generous cool guy” Smith is comfortable with playing. While I agree that Django isn’t the sole lead, he is a co-lead, and the two characters compliment each other. It’s a bit disconcerting that Smith felt he needed to kill Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) rather than looking at how that scene works in the overall context of the movie. However, it sounds like Smith did appreciate the finished film: “I thought it was brilliant,” he says. “Just not for me.”
However, Smith is stepping back a bit from lead roles. He’s giving the lead over to his son Jaden in the upcoming After Earth, and he’ll be doing a cameo in Winter’s Tale. And as The Playlist notes, Tarantino and Smith parted on good terms, and it’s possible that they may work together some day in the future. DiCaprio was originally set for Inglourious Basterds, so maybe there’s room for Smith in Tarantino’s Killer Crow.