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“I wanted to play roles that you’d give to Tom Cruise”: Will Smith Justified Rejecting $426M Leonardo DiCaprio Movie That Won Multiple Oscars

Django Unchained could be another iconic Will Smith movie.

Django Unchained must be one of the biggest misses in Will Smith’s career. The Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio starrer movie was initially pitched to the Independence Day actor. According to Smith, it was also the first time, he thought about making a movie about slavery. However, the theme of vengeance didn’t appeal to him.


Django UnchainedA still from Django Unchained
The 2012 Quentin Tarantino directorial is an iconic movie that garnered magnificent critical and commercial success. It could undoubtedly be one of Will Smith’s biggest ventures, had he not passed the role of Django Freeman to Jamie Foxx. The movie was not only a box office hit but also made a name at the Oscars.

Why did Will Smith reject the role of Django?

Will Smith as Agent J in Men in Black 3Will Smith as Agent J in Men in Black 3
Will Smith has been one of the biggest actors with several critically acclaimed roles and box office hits under his collar. However, he missed the chance to make another role his own as he passed the $426 Million Quentin Tarantino brainchild Django Unchained. 

While speaking about the reason for leaving the 2012 hit, the actor said to GQ that he has always avoided movies related to slavery. He wanted to play roles like a superhero or depict Black excellence in movies. Although he considered the Tarantino hit, the theme of vengeance didn’t let him play the lead in the movie.


“I’ve always avoided making films about slavery. In the early part of my career… I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise. And the first time I considered it was Django [Unchained]. But I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance.”
Interestingly, Will Smith has never presented a concrete reason as to why he passed the movie. While he complained about the theme of “vengeance” to GQ, he presented a different reason to Entertainment Weekly for leaving the movie.

Will Smith presented different reasons on various occasions

Will Smith in EmancipationWill Smith in Emancipation
Looks like Will Smith had more than one issue for rejecting Django Unchained. In an interview with EW, the Oscar-winning actor stated a different reason than his statement to GQ. He stated that Christoph Waltz’s character Dr. King Schultz was more prominent in the movie than Django Freeman. As a lead, he wanted his character to be primary.
“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” 

In the movie, King Schultz is a German bounty hunter who frees Django. Later in the movie, he was the one who killed Leonardo DiCaprio’s villain Calvin J. Candie. However, Will Smith wanted the character of Django to kill Candie which didn’t play out.

Even though Will Smith used to avoid slavery movies, he became a part of Emancipation where he starred as Whipped Peter. Despite the mixed response received to his movie, he was praised. When asked about the reason for his association with the movie, he stated that the film was about Black love and Smith didn’t want to miss an opportunity for such a project.


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