Will Smith Almost Lost His $838 Million Action Franchise Before Disney’s One Decision Saved the Day For the Oscar Winner

The tale of Hollywood’s iconic bromance between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the action-packed movie series Bad Boys almost didn’t happen. Initially, Disney was set to helm the project and eventually would take a decision that would push the movie into Smith and Lawreence’s direction even further.

The journey of this film, which eventually blossomed into a multi-million dollar franchise, was riddled with trials and tribulations. Against all odds, the stars aligned, paving the way for this misadventure-filled masterpiece to find its rightful place in the hearts of audiences worldwide.

Will SmithWill Smith
It is now hard to imagine any other actors besides Lawrence and Smith for the roles. Here is what went on before the films became a reality.

Will Smith Almost Missed Out on the Bad Boys Franchise

Speaking with Rob Lowe on his podcast Literally!, producer Jerry Bruckheimer revealed some tidbits from the original vision of Bad Boys meant for the audience. Before the iconic duo of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the production team experimented with various pairs to gauge the project’s potential and to see clearly what shape it could take in the future. And thus, initially, SNL stars Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz were considered for the roles. Additionally, Disney, which was also initially involved, ultimately rejected the direction the project was taking.

A still from Bad Boys (1995)A still from Bad Boys (1995)
Jerry Bruckheimer said,
“Well it was originally going to be him and Dana Carvey. It’s a different approach, obviously. But it was him and Dana Carvey, and Michael Bay did a test with them. For whatever reason, Disney didn’t go it; and so the project became dormant for a while. What really happened was Dana dropped out. So we were left with Jon. There are varying stories about what happened: there’s Jon’s version, there’s other people’s version, but the movie never got made with Jon and somebody else.”

Thanks to Disney, the project did not go that way, although it would have been an enjoyable watch. The project eventually lost momentum and faded away temporarily. After some wandering, it was Sony who reignited the spark. Sony’s interest in the project propelled it back into motion, steering it firmly in Will Smith’s direction.

How Did Will Smith Get Cast in Bad Boys

Even after Sony took over the project, Will Smith was not an immediate choice for the role. While his partner in crime, Martin Lawrence, was locked in early on, it wasn’t until later that the project landed in Smith’s hands, taking its sweet time to find its perfect fit. Jerry Bruckheimer further continued on the podcast stating,
“We had Will, but Will wasn’t a big enough star. Martin Lawrence was a bigger star at the time than Will was. And we sent the script to, first, Arsenio Hall, because he was the hottest guy in the business at the time. And unfortunately, unfortunately for Will, he passed. Then we went on to Martin, who loved it and wanted to make it. Martin got the movie made.”

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence inWill Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys For Life
Arsenio Hall’s regrettable refusal opened the door for Will Smith to be seriously considered for the role. And the rest is history. After the first movie was made, it became an instant hit, signaling that there was no stopping them. Hits kept coming one after another and eventually became a multi-million dollar franchise that audiences absolutely adore.

Bad Boys is available on STARZ to stream.

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