Will Smith Almost Lost ‘Independence Day’ As Fox Refused Roland Emmerich’s Casting Demand Saying “You Cast A Black Guy…”
Will Smith Almost Lost ‘Independence Day’ As Fox Refused Roland Emmerich’s Casting Demand Saying “You Cast A Black Guy…” (Picture Credit: IMDB)

Will Smith is among the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. Although the actor’s life is currently filled with many controversies, it is safe to say that the actor’s illustrious career is unmatchable. While any director would be glad to sign him as a lead star now, this was not the case back in the 90s. Roland Emmerich, who helmed the sci-fi flich Independence Day, had to fight against a production studio to cast Smith in the lead role.

Smith began his career as a rapper and later was hit to fame with his lead role in the sitcom, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The actor is now one of the leading stars in the industry.

In 1996, Will Smith received a lot of love for bringing the role of Captain Steven Hiller to life in the film, Independence Day. However, this might not have been the case with Roland Emmerich had not fought for casting the Men In Black star.

In 2021, celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary, Roland Emmerich interacted with The Hollywood Reported and revealed how Fox Studios rejected his demand of casting Smith in the movie as he would not work well in the international markets. He said, “The studio said, ‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].”

The film’s writer Dean Devlin chimed in to reveal the real reason behind the studio rejecting Smith’s casting was his race. He said, “[Fox] said, ‘You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office].” He added how Roland did not take no for an answer and finally won against the studio. “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,” Dean said. As a result, Roland threatened 20th Century Fox he would take the movie to another studio and they had to agree with his casting.

The movie reportedly made a whopping $817.8 million and Will Smith’s character was well received by the audience.

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