In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1996 action blockbuster Independence Day, director Roland Emmerich and screenwriter Dean Devlin recalled the fight to cast Will Smith in his leading role.
Apparently, the studio financing the film, 20th Century Fox, didn’t want Smith cast alongside his co-star Jeff Goldblum because he was Black.
“It was pretty clear it had to be Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum,” said Emmerich. “That was the combo we thought. The studio said, ‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].’”
Devlin added: “They said, ‘You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office]’. 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.”
Now a two-time Academy Award nominee, Smith will be releasing an autobiographical memoir titled Will later this year.
Smith has been working on the book for two years now, and describes it as a “labour of love”.
The book will detail Smith’s personal and professional journey — starting with his childhood in West Philadelphia, to finding mainstream success through music and acting and his roles in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and blockbuster films such as Hitch, Men in Black, I Am Legend and Ali.
Speaking about his passion project in a statement, Smith said, “It’s easy to manoeuvre the material world once you have conquered your own mind. I believe that. Once you’ve learned the terrain of your own mind, every experience, every emotion, every circumstance, whether positive or negative, simply propels you forward, to greater growth and greater experience.
“That is true will. To move forward in spite of anything. And to move forward in a way that brings others with you, rather than leave them behind.”
Penguin Random House imprint will publish the memoir, which they describe as “the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind.
“In Will, one of the most dynamic and globally-recognised entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, tracing his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned.”
The statement continued, “Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.”
Honestly, we can’t wait.