The Iconic Speech In ‘Independence Day’ Was Almost Delivered By… Kevin Spacey

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Independence Day, the filmmakers and cast revisited the making of one of the most defining films of the 1990s in an oral history of the film for The Hollywood Reporter. Written by Dean Devlin and directed by Roland Emmerich, Independence Day was the team’s follow-up to Stargate, and the two had kicked off a bidding war after knocking out the script in just under a month. The film eventually landed at 20th Century Fox, but while the studio was in love with the script, things got touch-and-go when it came to casting.

According to Devlin, at one point, Kevin Spacey was eyed as the top contender for the role of President Thomas Whitmore, which ultimately went to Bill Pullman. Via THR:

DEVLIN I knew Kevin [Spacey] since high school. We had just seen The Usual Suspects, an early cut. The original idea was to portray the president as a villain, and it was going to be a twist that he’s heroic when he gets in the plane [at the end of the movie]. That’s why we were pushing for Kevin Spacey. At one point we said, “We can get Kevin for $200K right now. In a year from now he’s going to win an Oscar and he’s going to [cost] $2 million.” The studio executive said, “Kevin Spacey will never win an Oscar in my lifetime.”

Fortunately, for everyone involved and fans of the film, Spacey did not get the part, and Pullman ended up delivering the iconic “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day” speech. Although, that pivotal scene almost went down in flames when it came time to shoot it. According to Devlin, he had just fired off a quick draft of the speech when he initially wrote the script and never went back to rewrite it. As he raced to the set to rework the rousing rallying cry just as it was about to be filmed, he found Pullman already prepared and given it the flourishes we now recognize thanks to hours of devouring historical speeches in his trailer.

“I remember how good it felt to have a certain fatigue in it,” Pullman recalled. “The extras were tired. The ADs are tired. That fatigue can spread. And then I just thought, ‘This is good. It really feels like we need to get everybody roused up a little bit, and get ready for the fight.'”

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)