Will Smith Talks about Passing on DJANGO UNCHAINED; Felt Django Wasn’t the Lead Role

by     Posted 1 year, 206 days ago

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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.

will-smith-django-unchained-posterSpeaking 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.

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  • Steve

    What a faggot ass reason to skip on the part of Django

    • Sloan

      Took the words from the tip of my brain

    • adam otmani

      couldn’t agree more..thank fuk he passed!! foxx was awesome

    • Steve

      I’m really glad he passed Django was better for it.

      But why bring poor gay people into it whats wrong with you?

      I hope there is an admin here and they remove this complete cock heads remark??

    • EatShitSteve

      Fuck you, you ignorant cunt. Go be a 10 year old somewhere else.

  • The Exploiter

    Astonishingly narrow-minded.

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  • say what???????

    glad he passed on this… jamie did a great job and he complemented christoph, where as
    smith would’ve overacted to much and taken away from the other actors.

  • Anonymous

    Daniel Craig should have played Django

    • sher

      No..Jackie Chan should’ve been Django

    • Jack

      No..Megan Fox should’ve been Django

      • rais

        Frank from MIB2 would have been the ultimate Django!

  • tonymontana

    Disappointing conclusion: Will Smith isn’t into cinema. Will Smith is into Will Smith.

    • Ur mom

      Yeah. He just sounds self-centered. I don’t get his need to be the lead role. He thinks he’s too good for supporting roles, I guess.

    • Austin

      I’m sad to say that’s what I took away too

  • duhjango

    But he’s willing not to be the lead if it helps his son’s career. Just another greedy movie star. Glad I don’t bother with his films.

    • wESh

      It’s called retirement plans

      • Rich woa

        I think his retirement plan is already fine without his son’s help

  • tom

    so he clearly missed the part where there are two heroes and two villains. Django certainly kills the bad guy in the end

  • Joe

    I wish I could have seen Quentin’s face when Smith was telling him this idiotic BS.

  • Agent777

    Dear Douche,
    There are no small roles, just small actors. Or small people like you.

  • -

    “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead.”
    Wow. I think Will Smith is a good actor, but what a douche.
    Jamie Foxx was great anyway, his performance was really underrated.

    • ed

      im pretty sure that he was kidding… its really easy to read something out of context.

  • brNdon

    I think that Foxx leant the character the much harder edge that Django needed. Smith would not have been able to bring that to this role.

  • Anon

    While I don’t agree with Smith, I have to admit I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the way DiCaprio’s end was handled. It was a slow build up to an incredibly predictable outcome. We’d seen the Dueringer foreshadowed so many times already. I’d have preferred that he tried to use it against Dicaprio but then it jammed forcing Tarantino to come up with something more creative.

  • Bo

    Ya all need to take a big breath and grow up! The Lord have mercy! I was in the film business for many years and to quote a fan favorite line from a film…’you can’t handle the truth’! I’m not a fan of Will Smith by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s just simply telling the truth here. What’s the problem? You think this isn’t typical? You think Tarantino and many other A-List people aren’t the exact same? Of course they are. This has been going on for many years. McQueen and Newman didn’t do Butch Cassidy because they couldn’t work out who got top billing. Hackman didn’t even take a credit in Cruise’s The Firm because only Cruise get billing above the title. Etc. etc. Do you really think in you immature view that Smith would be in the position of one of the top International Movie Stars in the world if he didn’t have this attitude? And he’ll remain in that top tier because of it. Don’t think that Cruise (a la that stupid musical Rock of Ages) when he takes a role other than the lead ain’t treated like the lead and a king on set…that’s really naive. So come on….can ya all handle the truth? You may not like it…but it’s the truth. Get over it…the world ain’t all nice pretty like you want it to be. These people…all of them…are ego maniacs that I wouldn’t let do my laundry. Accept it an let ‘em be as they are. Why would you want it any different? At least he told you the truth. Righto cheerios?

  • Bo

    Ya all need to take a big breath and grow up! The Lord have mercy! I was in the film business for many years and to quote a fan favorite line from a film…\’you can\’t handle the truth\’! I\’m not a fan of Will Smith by any stretch of the imagination, but he\’s just simply telling the truth here. What\’s the problem? You think this isn\’t typical? You think Tarantino and many other A-List people aren\’t the exact same? Of course they are. This has been going on for many years. McQueen and Newman didn\’t do Butch Cassidy because they couldn\’t work out who got top billing. Hackman didn\’t even take a credit in Cruise\’s The Firm because only Cruise get billing above the title. Etc. etc. Do you really think in you immature view that Smith would be in the position of one of the top International Movie Stars in the world if he didn\’t have this attitude? And he\’ll remain in that top tier because of it. Don\’t think that Cruise (a la that stupid musical Rock of Ages) when he takes a role other than the lead ain\’t treated like the lead and a king on set…that\’s really naive. So come on….can ya all handle the truth? You may not like it…but it\’s the truth. Get over it…the world ain\’t all nice pretty like you want it to be. These people…all of them…are ego maniacs that I wouldn\’t let do my laundry. Accept it an let \’em be as they are. Why would you want it any different? At least he told you the truth. Righto cheerios?

  • Bo

    I guess Collider thought my post worth enough to post it twice. Not my doing, sports fans. And that be the truth!!

    • Ok

      I don’t think anyone was truly upset that he passed, but they would like to believe Will Smith made choices based on furthering the art of film rather than the “Pursuit of Happyness” (that’s a pun more than an example). It’s funny your two big defenses were Scientologists being self centered assholes who can’t take a role if their name isn’t the first thing associated with the project. It’s a computing error that your message was posted twice, I think it meant to not acknowledge your post at all, but if you think that you won by being proud of tyrannical actors than I’m glad your thoughts are withering away on message boards.

    • Ok

      I don’t think anyone was upset that he passed, but they would like to see Will Smith makes choices based on furthering the art of film rather than his own “Pursuit of Happyness” (that’s a pun, not really an example). I think it’s funny you defend two notorious givers of Scientology who have proved themselves to be self-centered a**holes that can’t take a role if their name is not the first thing associated with the project. If you think that you are winning being proud of tyrannical actors then I’m glad your thoughts are withering away on message boards. By the way, it was a computing thing because I think they meant to not acknowledge your post at all.

      • Alan B

        Nah, he wasn’t defending Scientology or whatever ridiculous contention you want to throw at him. He was just saying that this is how movie stars think, and they do so because thinking this way keeps them at the top. Which it does. Period. Smith has always played the long game in his career. Always. Yet, suddenly everyone is begrudging his success because … err, something!

      • Ok

        When the hell did I say he was defending Scientology? I just thought it was funny that he could only think of scum to scrape up some examples of actors that made being a dick work for them. But great point dude! We shouldn’t get weary on his decision making; I Am Legend, Hancock, Seven Pounds, and Men in Black 3 were all… oh yeah, mediocre. But wait, he’s working with M. Night!! That’s right, he made a good one about 5 movies ago. People wanted to believe in him and I think the comments above Bo explain exactly why they have given up. I applaud that you stand behind these people, maybe they will give you a break someday. Never mind, they only help themselves.

  • Underground Anthem TX

    I hate stories like this. So because Will Smith wasn’t involved in Django Unchained, it’s that much greater? I LOVED Django, and thought Jamie Foxx was brilliant in the role. But stories like this only serve to incite posts such as “WILL SMITH SUX!”

    I personally think Will Smith is a fantastic actor (and apparently so does the rest of the world and stuff), he just absolutely wasn’t right for Django. Doesn’t make him terrible, it just means this part wasn’t right for him. With stories like this, I always think of Eric Stoltz as the original Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Does this information really give the movie added value? It just always seems to denigrate to “THAT GUY SUX!”, and that gives me douche-chills.

  • TheRealBukzit

    Smith acted STUPID (too big ego) Foxx was Perfect and without him, that movie wouldn’t be what it is

  • The Destroyer

    I loved Django, but I actually agree with Smith, I wanted the movie to be more about Django then Shultz, Walz was excellent, but I didn’t think the character was that important to be a co-lead. I also didn’t like how Candie died, and would of preferred Django kill him.

  • junierizzle

    I don’t have a problem with what he said at all. If you’re going to devote time out of your life to something than why wouldn’t you try and make it exactly what you want it to be.?

    What’s worse, him passing because he didn’t feel strong enough about the material? Or him cutting a paycheck and giving a half assed performance because he doesn’t believe in the material?

    • Ok

      Oh good point, nobody should ever take a supporting role. Why waste the time? I can’t wait to see a movie starring everyone.

  • Jonathan

    This reminds me of how on the show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” the actress who played the mother (Vivian) decided to leave because she didn’t get along with Smith. She felt that everyone was revolving around Smith too much and wasn’t respectful of more veteran actors like herself. Its not word for word, but I remember her saying Smith acted like he was privileged all the time, like he was the center of the universe. Nice to know some things never change.

    • The Real Bruce LeeRoy

      It’s was about him dumb ass!

      • Derek

        No, dumb ass, the show was about Vivian. She was dope. Only reason I watched.

  • James

    It is easy to read the words out of context, but either way I can’t stand Will Smith or his kids. Go do your films with M. Night (lol…) They annoy me more then anything, so Im glad he didn’t play Django. Foxx was excellent and Im a big fan of his so it’s all good for me.

  • angfan

    3 things: 1) Smith is right about the lead — Foxx became a secondary character in his own film. I almost forgot about Django in a movie called Django Unchained. 2) It’s much more violent than anything he has done before. It would’ve been bad for Smith’s relatively clean image and it would be tough to argue that the ultra violence made the film better. Which leads me to 3) It’s not a particularly meaningful movie. I mean, it’s well-crafted, but Smith has stated that he only wants to make movies that tell a MESSAGE these days. You can see it in all of his choices since Pursuit of Happyness.. every film has some positive, inspiring message. Even the father angle in MIB3 seemed inserted by Smith. Tarantino’s film did not have anything nearly so schmaltzy in it (nor should it have — that’s not tarantino wheelhouse), so it doesn’t fit with his career goals. Overall, I think it was a good call for Smith.

  • Dequan

    Technically Candie wasn’t the main bad guy of the film, Stephen was

  • Said in Los Angeles

    Django is the hero, Candy is the villain. Django must kill Candy. Thats the journey of the hero. Even Yoda got that right when he told Luke Skywalker that he must confront his fears by confronting Vader.

  • Ok

    Smith passed because he was uncomfortable, but it’s nice to see that he enjoyed a film that he couldn’t perform in. I still don’t like the response because, like someone on the board said, he handled it with humor but it was relatively lost in translation. Looking back at his film history only validates the necessity of doing a movie as the lead, and I don’t think beliefs should interfere with a person’s performance (this was made clear in Django by Mr. L.Jackson) but this isn’t the first role Smith wouldn’t take on. I think everyone would have been interested to see him as Django. It makes me sad that he isn’t able to take that chance.

  • hesher

    Passed on Quentin to work with Shyamalan…

    • Person

      haha so true

  • Kal

    WOW! I can actually see alot of you don’t know much, definately if the script Will smith read was exactly like the movie i bet he would have stared in it. Tarantino definately would have polished the script more and gave django character more to do after he spoke to will smith. Alot of actor dont take some roles because of how they are written and the directors or writers notices this they do rewrites for the roles

  • Bitter Pill

    Rewrite Tarantino’s script?!! Screw you Fresh Prince.

  • Bitter Pill

    Rewrite Tarantino’s script?!! Screw you Fresh Prince!

  • Andrew

    Wahhhh he has a different opinion to me *cries* bitches

  • Nmaster

    Lol, the internet is not will smiths’ friend..

  • sense 11

    I’m going to put this the nicest way i can

    “Only a fucking moron would turn down Tarantino to go work with Shyamalan”

    I just lost the last shred of respect I had for Will Smith, not that he gives a shit about being respected.

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  • JAK

    Will smith is insufferable in most interviews i have seen. He is ego maniac and I as a result it is paniful to see his performances in most movies. I am glad he chose not to divert from his mainstay of self centered roles that require him to be the centre of attention at all times. I feel sorry for his children that have this kind of role model. They come of as horrible personalities also in in the thankfully few number of interviews I have seen. Alpha males like Will and Tom Cruise Really are quite insufferable personalities. I am glad i did not have to sit throuh Wills Macho tough cool guy shtick in Django. It is a better movie without him Screwing with it!

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