Will Smith almost wasn’t cast in Independence Day because he’s Black, says screenwriter
Written by laserteam on July 5, 2021
(EW) – Independence Day became a worldwide hit following its debut on July 4 weekend in 1996, and Will Smith’s turn as fighter pilot Steven Hiller cemented his status as a global action star.
In an interview about the movie’s 25th anniversary, Emmerich told The Hollywood Reporter that the studio said, “‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].'”
“They said, ‘You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office],'” Devlin added. “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.
Finally, he told THR, “I put my foot down. ‘Universal people are calling every day, so give me these two actors or I move over there.’ I don’t think it would have been a possibility [to actually move studios], but it was a great threat.”
The filmmakers would quickly see that they made the right choice in casting Smith — the movie made $817.4 million at the global box office and is now regarded as one of the best sci-fi action flicks of all time.