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Independence Day' Director Says Will Smith Was Almost Rejected for Being Black

fan 4ever

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'Independence Day' Director Says Will Smith Was Almost Rejected for Being Black

The studio believed he wouldn’t appeal to foreign markets.

Ahead of this year’s 4th of July celebrations, The Hollywood Reporterrevisited 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios)’ ’90s sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day to mark the film’s 25th-anniversary.

Sitting down with director Roland Emmerich and writer Dean Devlin, the outlet learned that studio executives were against casting Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller. Despite already being a household name, the executives believed that Smith wouldn’t appeal to foreign audiences because he was Black.

“The studio said, ‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets]‘,” Emmerich said. “[Fox] said, ‘You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office],’” Devlin added. “Our argument was, ‘Well, the movie is about space aliens. It’s going to do fine foreign.’ It was a big war, and Roland really stood up for [Smith] – and we ultimately won that war.”

Despite not necessarily being plausible, director Roland Emmerich threatened that if they were not able to secure stars Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum they would be taking the film over to Universal Studiosright before production was set to begin.


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I just watched the 20th anniversary release of Independence Day or blu-ray.  I was going through the special features and smirked at the story boards that had Will, Vivica, and Ross' characters drawn as white people. It made me realize that Hollywood always expects all white characters in their movies. 

I'm curious about this statement. For those who live outside of the US, would you agree that there's any truth to this.  Issues with racism and white washing in the US are so ridiculous that I rarely consider them other places in the world. 

I think one of the factors that makes ID4 work is the ensemble casting. I can't imagine an character's casting holding that much weight since it's balanced so well. It kind of makes me think there were race issues at Fox. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Will was famous here in Belgium at the time of ID4. The FPOBA was on TV and people were excited about this movie. I remember seeing commercials on TV all the time. So the fact that he’s black didn’t play any role at the time. It still doesn’t.


Edited by fan 4ever
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