Will Smith has been a household name since he became the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air nearly 30 years ago. His career has been marked by back-to-back exceedingly successful box office hits such as Bad Boys (1995), Independence Day (1996), Men In Black (1997), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), and I Am Legend (2007). The reverberations of what the actor has contributed to pop culture are unceasing. However, over the duration of his career, Will Smith made it a point to avoid movies about slavery. In fact, he infamously turned down the opportunity to portray Django in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2012) and he has finally revealed why.
In an exclusive interview with GQ, Will Smith opened up about why he made the choices that he did early in his career, particularly why he avoided movies that painted Black people in a light that would only serve to communicate to the Black populous’ past suffering instead of what he referred to as “black excellence”. He told GQ that he “ …wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts.” Essentially, if he starred in a movie about Black slavery that would have only served to negate his goals both as an actor and as a representative of the Black community.
However, he did admit that when the opportunity to star in Django Unchained came along he did consider it, but ultimately decided against it. Screen Rant pointed out that his choice really came down to creative differences between him and director Quentin Tarantino. Will Smith revealed that he really felt Django Unchained told a story of vengeance and that he felt the essence of a movie that depicting slavery, at its core, should be about breaking free and rising above the inhumanities of slave owners. Will Smith also emphasized, according to The Hollywood Reporter, that had Tarantino framed the story around Django’s unwavering love for his wife instead of being consumed by revenge, that he would have been much more likely to have taken the part.
Will Smith’s belief that a movie about slavery should be about persevering and moving forward is what led him to accept the lead role in the upcoming Apple TV+ film Emancipation. Will Smith detailed that Emancipation, in contrast to Django Unchained, is intrinsically about love and the power that love can allow someone to wield.
This was one that was about love and the power of Black love, and that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.Will Smith
Will Smith time and time again has proven to be such an insightful actor that has a truly remarkable way of connecting with his audience, and Emancipation is sure to be another representation of that. Additionally, Will Smith has stated that since turning 50 years old he has been increasingly turned his focus to evolving as a person. For him, one thing that evolution entails is taking on different roles. For instance, fans can look forward to seeing him in a new Disney+ documentary series titled Welcome To Earth that will take the viewer through the world’s most beautiful aspects of nature.
Even though Will Smith is committed to taking on different roles, that doesn’t mean he wants to walk away from the types of parts that defined the early part of his career. In fact, Giant Freakin Robot exclusively learned that the actor is looking to reprise his role as Deadshot and team up with Idris Elba’s Bloodsport in a new DC project. However, little is still known about what that project could potentially entail.