Will Smith explains why he turned down Django Unchained

Senior Editor
03.25.13 71 Comments

Will Smith has gotten obnoxiously boring since the Fresh Prince of Bel Air flip-turned him into a beloved, international superstar. Despite becoming known almost as much for his obnoxiously over-styled fashion children as his acting, Quentin Tarantino graciously offered him a chance to expand on his increasingly narrow goody-two-shoes persona by playing the lead in Django Unchained. But Will Smith turned it down. Now, he explains to Entertainment Weekly why, and his answer tells you everything you need to know about how it comes to be that guys like him and Tom Cruise with their pick of every script in town so often end up in generic movies.

Smith tells EW that he turned down the part because his character would’ve been second-fiddle to the bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) who teaches Django his trade . “Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!”

That’s right, Will Smith thought the character who SPOILER ALERT (seriously, ignore this next part of the sentence if you haven’t seen the film) dies three quarters of the way through was the lead. Did he actually read the whole script, or did he just skim his character’s lines to see how important they seemed? “I dunno, Q, this lead role just doesn’t seem lead-y enough, you know? I love the rags-to-riches story, but it starts off a bit unglamorous for my tastes.”

This next blockquote is also a little spoilery. And a lot head-slappy.

Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’”

But no hard feelings: Smith was a big fan of the final product. “I thought it was brilliant,” he says. “Just not for me.” [EW]

As in a Greek tragedy, hubris like this never goes unpunished, and now Will Smith is starring in an M. Night Shyamalan movie instead. Well played, karma, well played.

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