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Independence Day: Fox didn’t want Will Smith to star

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On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the release of Independence Day, THR got to talk to the director Roland Emmerich, with the screenwriter Dean Devlin and with some of the stars of the hugely successful sci-fi blockbuster released in 1996.

During the interview, Emmerich and Devlin recalled that 20th Century Fox did not agree to entrust the role of the protagonist Steven Hiller to Will Smith, and that they had originally thought about Ethan Hawke. “Ethan was on our list, but I thought he was still too young at the time. Either way, it was clear that we wanted Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum to star. This was the combination we had in mind “, Emmerich said. “But the studio told us, ‘No, we don’t like Will Smith. He cannot guarantee us anything. It won’t work in international markets’. “

Devlin added: “The studio told us, ‘If you hire a black actor for the role, you’ll be killing the international box office.’ So we told them, ‘Well, the movie is about aliens from outer space. It will be fine outside ‘. “

There was, therefore, a real battle with Fox, since Roland Emmerich he was convinced of Will Smith. In fact, the director explained: “It was close to the start of filming and we still hadn’t signed with Will and Jeff. I put my foot down: ‘The Universal people call us every day. Either you give us those actors or we give the film to them. ‘ I don’t think it really would have been possible to do that, but it was still a big threat. “

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The great success of Independence Day

At the time of its release in the hall, Independence Day it achieved extraordinary box office success, despite unfavorable reviews. It was the largest worldwide gross of 1996, beating titles such as Twister And Mission: Impossible, and won the 1997 Oscar for Best Special Effects. In 2016, the sequel was made Independence Day – Regeneration, also directed by Emmerich.


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