“I’d have done it”: Denzel Washington Almost Kicked Will Smith Out of His Iconic $353M Sci-Fi Masterpiece

Being one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood, Denzel Washington has had several big-budget opportunities knocking at his door. Thus, boasting an impressive resume out of his incredible roles, the actor became universally loved and appreciated by critics and fans. However, his Hollywood journey wasn’t as easy as he made it look.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington
In order to reach the summit, Denzel Washington had to make several hard choices, which even led him to turn down iconic roles during his career. And to audiences’ surprise, the actor once refused to play the lead role in the 2004 blockbuster I, RobotWhile the movie later starred Will Smith, it initially went to Washington, who almost kicked Smith out of his $353M masterpiece.

Denzel Washington Was The Initial Choice For I, Robot

Creating a reputation out of his decorated Hollywood career, the veteran actor Denzel Washington appeared in more than 60 projects throughout his tenure. However, apart from the movies he starred in, Washington also received several other big-budget opportunities that almost changed the trajectory of his career. But, the actor refused the roles due to specific reasons.

Denzel WashingtonWashington created an iconic Hollywood career
Evidently, the Will Smith starring $353M sci-fi masterpiece, I, Robot, was initially offered to Denzel Washington. Based on a series of short stories by Isaac Asimov, the book adaptation offered the lead role of Detective Del Spooner, to the veteran actor. Washington was asked to play the role of a robot-hesitant man, who investigates a murder that may have been committed by a robot.

Denzel WashingtonWashington nearly took away Will Smith’s $353M movie

However, the actor refused to be a part of the 2004 sci-fi movie. Finding the concept of the film extremely new and risky, Washington mentioned turning down the offer. Thus, the movie was later offered to Will Smith, who did a terrific job and turned the movie into a blockbuster. I, Robot, earned great reviews and was well received by critics.


Denzel Washington Refused The $353M Lead Role

Years later sitting for an interview with Phase 9, Denzel Washington reflected upon the time when he purposefully turned down the $353M project that later went to Will Smith. The veteran actor recalled how he almost took the opportunity until he faced his dilemma. Speaking with the outlet, the actor surprised his fans with his confession.

Denzel WashingtonDenzel Washington was the initial choice for I, Robot
I was […] offered I, Robot but I was worried about the robots if they got them wrong.” Denzel Washington claimed.

Confessing how he was in a dilemma regarding the concept of the movie, Washington mentioned that he considered it to be a risky step in his career. Further, the actor recalled another incident that solidified his decision to turn down the $353M role. Claiming how he was caught up between two movies, the veteran star mentioned making the difficult choice.

Will SmithWill Smith played the lead role in I, Robot (2004)
But actually, I would have done it but it came down to a choice between that movie and The Manchurian Candidate.”
Finding it way more easy and more fruitful to play Major Bennett Marco, in The Manchurian Candidate, Denzel Washington mentioned choosing what’s best for him. Appearing in the 2004 movie, Washington played the role of a US soldier who is kidnapped and experimented on, for nefarious political purposes, during the Gulf War. Thus, he left out the $353M I, Robot role for Will Smith.


Source: Phase 9

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