Independence Day was the film that catapulted Will Smith’s career as a box office heavyweight. But that almost didn’t happen according to the film’s Director and producer combo Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin and for race related reasons. Now that we’ve come up on the 25th anniversary of the film, in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, they stated that the 20th Century Fox decision makers felt Smith being black might hinder the film’s success.
“No, we don’t like Will Smith,” Emmerich said the studio told him. “He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].” Okay. Now that part could have been understandable. It’s the next part that’s the kicker. Devlin recalled hearing, “‘You cast a Black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign
In the end, Emmerich said he offered an ultimatum, either go with with Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith or they take the film to another studio. At the end of the day, it looks like they made the right decision after all.