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Will Smith Explains Why He Passed On ‘Django Unchained’

Quentin Tarantino Will Smith
First Look/Sony Pictures

Back when Quentin Tarantino was sprinting through the casting process on his upcoming ‘Django Unchained,’ an unconventional name was attached to the lead role of a vengeful slave seeking to free his wife from a vicious plantation owner. That name was Will Smith, Mr. “Getting Jiggy With It,” who was rumored to be willing to tarnish his clean-cut image to get down and dirty with Tarantino for the benefit of a potentially controversial project. Smith eventually passed, though, and the part went to Jamie Foxx.

Today, Smith explains why.

And controversy had supposedly nothing to do with it. Instead, it was simple scheduling issues that prevented Smith from committing to ‘Django.’ At least, that’s what the mega-watt star tells Empire (via The Playlist) as part of their lengthy profile on Tarantino. On why he passed, Smith says:

I came really close. It was one of the most amazing screenplays I had ever, ever seen. I was in the middle of ‘Men In Black 3′ and [Tarantino] was ready to go, and I just couldn’t sit with him and get through the issues, so I didn’t want to hold him up. That thing’s going to be ridiculous. It is a genius screenplay.

So if you really wanted to see Smith in a Tarantino film, you can thank ‘Men In Black 3’ for ruining it. Truthfully, Smith would have been an inspired choice. No offense to Foxx, but Smith has been cruising and could use a jolt that a Tarantino collaboration instantly brings. Because Smith’s to-do list currently reads like ‘I Am Legend 2,’ ‘Bad Boys 3,’ and possibly ‘I, Robot 2.’ (And if it’s an “amazing screenplay” what “issues” did he have to work out with Tarantino?…)

Granted, the actor tells the BBC he’s not really interested in becoming the “Sequel Guy.” But roles in Tarantino films are kind of once-in-a-lifetime. And now we’ll be left wondering about what might have been as we watch Smith trade barbs with Martin Lawrence in another potentially bombastic Michael Bay blockbuster.

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