‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Director Roland Emmerich Explains Why Will Smith Didn’t Return
Will Smith returning for an Independence Day sequel seemed like a real no-brainer: director Roland Emmerich’s original film, released in 1996, established Smith as a legitimate blockbuster star and helped earn him the nickname Mr. July. So why didn’t the actor return for Independence Day: Resurgence? Rumors have swirled about scheduling and pay, but Emmerich has the real answer, and it’s kind of…anticlimactic?
We learned a lot about Independence Day: Resurgence from this week’s livestream Q&A event, including that wacky official title. But one thing that wasn’t discussed was the absence of Will Smith. In an interview with Cinemablend, Emmerich explained why Smith didn’t return for the sequel, and it kind of makes sense — maybe, sort of, I don’t know:
In the very beginning, I wanted to work with him and he was excited to be in it but then after a while he was tired of sequels, and he did another science fiction film, which was his father-son story, so he opted out.
That sci-fi father/son film was M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth, which co-starred Smith’s real-life son, Jaden. In the Independence Day sequel, the son of Will Smith’s Steven Hiller plays a very large role. What doesn’t really make sense is this: After Earth was not a huge hit by any means, and it was received poorly by critics and audiences. Independence Day: Resurgence would have offered Smith the chance to do another big budget “father/son” sci-fi film, and one that audiences would actually see — whether or not we’ll enjoy it remains to be seen.
Smith isn’t averse to repeating himself: he’s starred in three Men in Black films and both of Michael Bay’s Bad Boys movies, so it seems a little silly for him to turn down a guaranteed success like this one. Maybe we just can’t, like, understand his artistry, man.
Independence Day: Resurgence hits theaters on June 24, 2016.