Will is used to getting tons of screen time as he takes down baddies like aliens, robots, and gunslingers, so he just couldn't stand the thought of not being the hero "lead" in Django Unchained." Here's what he told Entertainment Weekly about turning the movie down for the sci-fi flick "After Earth:" "Django wasn't the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!"
He even said that he pleaded with Tarantino to change the script just for him. He told EW, "I was like, 'No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'"
Will Smith isn't the first star to turn down a part, and he can be linked to other rejected roles in a way that's similar to the popular six degrees of Kevin Bacon game. Here's a look which stars are connected through rejected roles.
Will also turned down the role of Neo in the extremely popular "Matrix" movies. However, he says that he's happy that Keanu Reeves got the part because he fears that he would have "messed up" the movie. He said of turning the role down for "Wild Wild West," "At that point I wasn't smart enough as an actor to let the movie be -- whereas Keanu was."
Keanu turned down a role in the classic war movie "Platoon" because he thought the film was too violent, so Charlie Sheen stepped in to take his place. It was a pretty big part to turn down, but Keanu got lucky when he scored the lead role in the thriller "Speed" -- Johnny Depp had decided against boarding the dangerous bus.
Halle also turned down a role in "Speed," and she might be kicking herself now -- Sandra Bullock became a superstar after starring in the high-octane action flick. However, Halle definitely lucked out when Queen Latifah had to drop out of "Monster's Ball" because of a scheduling conflict. Halle went on to score an Oscar for her performance in the drama.
Queen Latifah would go on to score an Oscar nomination for her role in "Chicago," but the cast of the musical was supposed to be just a little different -- Hugh Jackman turned down the role that eventually went to Richard Gere because he felt that he was too young for the part.
Like many of the other celebs listed here, Hugh Jackman has also benefited from another star turning down a part. When Russell Crowe rejected the role of Wolverine in the "X-Men" movies, he was kind enough to recommend Hugh for the part. Perhaps Russell was just paying it forward since he previously starred in the Oscar darling "Gladiator" because Mel Gibson decided to turn down the lead role.
Mel also turned down the lead role in "The Golden Child," and when his name was attached, the movie was supposed to be an action drama. However, the lead eventually went to Eddie Murphy, and the screenplay was re-written to make the movie a comedy. Eddie would go on to star alongside Jamie Foxx in "Dreamgirls," and Jamie would get the "Django Unchained" role that Will Smith turned down.
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Will Smith
- Keanu Reeves
- Django Unchained
- Quentin Tarantino
- Hugh Jackman