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Will Smith Reveals His Reasons For Not Taking The Lead Role In ‘Django Unchained’

Will Smith Reveals His Reasons For Not Taking The Lead Role In 'Django Unchained'

On the heels of Adam’s post discussing Will Smith’s non-controversial role choices, seemingly as a strategy to maintain a certain image, comes this revelation courtesy of the latest issue of Empire magazine (via The Playlist)…

There is a feature on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained in the current issue of Empire, which includes a conversation with Will Smith about his decision not to star in that film.

You’ll recall last year, when news of Tarantino’s slave revenge flick surfaced, and all the speculation on who would star as the title character, with Will Smith being Tarantino’s very first choice for the part. At the time, Tarantino said that he planned to cast “top shelf” for the film; and it certainly didn’t get more “top shelf” than Big Willie.

At the time of that post, Will Smith had received the screenplay, but hadn’t yet signed on to play the part.

Of course, he later decided not to star in the film; and while we weren’t necessasrily surprised by that, we did wonder why he decided against it.

A year later, in the latest issue of Empire magazine, Will said the following when asked why he didn’t take the part:

“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.”


Of course I’m looking long and hard at the part of his response where he says “I just couldn’t sit with him and get through the issues.

So I’m reading this as: while he boasts the screenplay he read as “amazing” and “genius” he obviously had enough “issues” with it that a sit down with Tarantino was necessary.

I know he’s a busy man, but I’d think that if he REALLY wanted to do it, he’d have found the time to work things out with Tarantino, MIB3 or not. 

There’s also the question of how much Tarantino would have been willing to compromise.

What’s your read on this folks?

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sunly moise

i also want to be in that film


Will is being diplomatic. He doesn't need to explain anything, though.


Dear Misha,

Your a damn bully! Go SAT (like old folks say) down somewhere! #thatisall.


I don't like Taratino's films. I'm glad Will didn't do it.


I understand will smiths reason but looks like he really was keen on getting Men in black 3 on bieng a success, cant wait for I, Robot 2


I think it's great that he didn't take this controversial role. He really is too good for this role. I also have to agree with others, if he wanted to be in this film, he would have MIB3 or not.

Kim Casper

Most likely there are some things Will Smith is uncomfortable with but may not want to start a public negative issue with the movie; as a courtesy to Tarantino.


A star's commitment to a film is nothing to take lightly. Django is still shooting and this is where it all started back in FEBRUARY: Shooting schedule for Django –>

Dankwa Brooks

Too much drama. I'm out.


Will Smith has arrived to at a place in his career where he doesn't allow himself to be intimidated or pressured or shamed into doing something he'd rather not do. Good for him.


Mountain out of a molehill. Must we tear apart and analyze every morsel of this topic?? Is it a slow newsday?


Who knows what, exactly, he meant by issues. I do think you're speculating too much. Anytime a giant star attaches to a project, they have notes and story points that they bump on. It's just how development works.


Jeez, talk about trying to make something out of nothing. For whatever reason, Will decided not to take the part. He's being respectful to everyone involved with the film by saying the script is great. I guess it's true what they say, 'damned if you do, damned if you don't…'


People do know he had "issues" with the script for his own movie MIB3, right? Stopped in the middle of production to do re-writes and BALLOONED the budget. When Will Smith says "I have issues with the script", that means "I want to rewrite it because I'm the star". Same with Denzel in BOOK OF ELI, same with Tom Cruise in EVERY movie he's in, Russell Crowe in ROBIN HOOD etc etc. It's not necessarily that he hated it, or that it's bad-it's often "I want it to fit ME." It could be bad, could be Will had problems with it. I'm just saying that Will wanting to do revisions doesn't instantly mean "Oh Tambay was right because he reviewed DJANGO, it's slavery bullshit & Will is a lying muthafucka." LOL Btw, Sony & 20th Century Fox had Will over the barrel for MIB3 or CITY THAT SAILED. Period. He wasn't doing DJANGO even if he wanted to. So for the "Oh, he's Will Smith he can bend schedules" talk well, their (Overbrook) ENTIRE TV Development dept was closed (when TV dev is JUMPING) because they couldn't get a show on the air besides HAWTHORNE…and for all the original projects Will is attached to, he had to go to an existing franchise & wring the last bit of blood from a turnip. A Star is a Star is a Star, but this is still a Business and shit doesn't always happen like you want it.


Didn't I read somewhere that the producers of Hunger Games 2 pushed the start date back to accomodate Jennifer Lawrence's schedule? She's no where near the star-power of Will Smith so I would think he could have gotten the same consideration if he had pushed it. *shrug*

And Tarantino knew that Will would be in the middle of MIB3 when Django began shooting, right? So why would he(Tarantino) ask someone who is already committed to one film to stop in the middle and do his? Or does "Tarantino was ready to go" mean that he was ready for Will to make a decision and commit to the role and he didn't have time for Will's "issues"?

Anyway, I wonder what the "issues" were?

I'm Glad Will Didn't Do It

I don't blame Will for not wanting to play a slave, essentially. We all know a role like that is meant to put a black actor of his caliber in his place. Plus, I'm sure we all know he would have gotten an Oscar nod and probably won for the garbage, thus sending the message to black actors that to win an Academy Award you gotta play a slave, maid, ext. Will is nobody's fool. Good choice bro.


He would have been miscast anyway. Not enough edge IMO.

Charles Judson

Like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or Edward Norton, Will Smith is known as a hands on actor when it comes to crafting films to fit him, regardless of where in the process they come on board. Tarantino is not against working with an actor like Uma Thurman in creating a film like KILL BILL. It sounds exactly as it reads to me, Will wanted to work through the script, but the timing was off. MIB3's development has been up and down for years and even stopped filming halfway through for script rewrites.


So what?! He didn't want to do the film, who cares it still got made. I'm tired of people who feel the need to judge him because he won't do "risky" or "edgier roles", go grown your own career so you can do the "risky, edgy" stuff but I guarantee you would never grow to his or Denzel's status and A-list level. And whoever said that Jaimie Foxx is a BETTER actor than Jamie needs to have their neck held down by the foot of the Hulk. I'm not even a big fan of Will but even I can see that he's done better in his films than Jamie. SMDH!


I love how people ignore the fact that he said it was the most amazing screenplay he'd read (i agree-God knows there are stinkers out there that make it to Oscar), yet black people stil can't believe the truth when it smacks thm in the face. "Oh, he really didn't mean it" Yeah, sounds like a woman when she finds out her man cheated. He could've just stopped at scheduling , but no, he added his own feelings of how the script was. LOL@ the denials.


Will saying something is "amazing, genius and ridiculous" is what he says about every movie including Bagger Vance.


"Ridiculous." "Genius." "One of the most amazing screenplays I had ever ever seen" And you basically turn Tarantino down over scheduling? HA! As someone else said, if Will really wanted to do the film, I'm sure Tarantino would have been more than willing to push back the date, especially since he supposedly wrote the script with Will in mind.


Will Smith said a long time ago that he wanted to be a movie star, the number 1 top grossing movie star. Movie stars very rarely take on controversial roles.


His main issue might have been Overbrook Pictures wasn't producing it. What ever the issue is its his prerogative not to do it.


note: i am not a will smith fan. sight unseen (and now we'll never know) but i go in thinking quentin lucked out: foxx is ten times the actor smith is, imo. (though, i still say he would have done even better with chewital ejifor (c'mon, who can spell that guy's name?!).)

that said, who knows what the issues really were. he could be lying about even liking the script in the first place. maybe he wanted jada to play k. washington's part, but just not get raped so much. who knows? my question is: why does anyone care what will smith does? maybe, i would care if he made more interesting (risky) choices. maybe he knows his limitations and sticks to what got him where he is. and, truthfully, i don't really mind that: bad performances in risky movies are no better than so-so performances in the usual crap. in fact, they may be worse, as something that could be special is ruined by a star who doesn't have the chops to bring it off. no, stick to your comfort level, will, and i'll stick to avoiding your movies until they come on TBS. everybody's happy.

Adam Scott Thompson

Maybe he should've played Neo; he dodged that question like "bullet time." LOL


I just don't see Smith in a Tarantino movie. Much happier with Jamie Foxx, he's a much more adventurous actor.


It probably is a diplomatic way of saying he like the idea of the script, but probably found several key points problematic (you don't drop a project over minor issues). Tarantino's ego is so hyperinflated (go watch any interview with him) I'm fairly confident he is not the type of person to compromise about anything.


Movie stars worry about image and actors act. Will is a movie star and that's not a bad thing.

the black police

LOL He's so funny. I like him! Always so diplomatic.


if Big Willie wanted to do it, it would have been done. MIB 3 or not. "issues" or not. they would have pushed back the dates of the Django shoot to make it happen.

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