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When casting was underway for Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained, Will Smith emerged as a frontrunner for the starring role.
But the actor would not end up accepting the offer.
In The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Actor Roundtable, Smith explained why he turned down the opportunity.
“It was about the creative direction of the story,” Smith said. “To me, it’s as perfect a story as you could ever want: a guy that learns how to kill to retrieve his wife that has been taken as a slave. That idea is perfect. And it was just that Quentin and I couldn’t see [eye to eye].”
The decision wasn’t made quickly. Smith met with the director and the two talked about the film for hours. However, Smith said he could not move past his view of the movie’s overarching theme.
“I wanted to make that movie so badly, but I felt the only way was, it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story,” Smith said.
The actor was cautious of the film’s violence. Smith said the only way he would have agreed to make the movie was if Django Unchained centered on a love story, “not a vengeance story.”
“We can’t look at what happens in Paris [the terrorist attacks] and want to f— somebody up for that. Violence begets violence. I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer,” Smith explained.
With Smith’s exit from the project, Jamie Foxx ultimately took the lead role.
Django Unchained went on to win two Oscars in 2013, with Tarantino winning Best Original Screenplay and Christoph Waltz taking home Best Supporting Actor.
The full Actor Roundtable will air on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. ET on Sundance TV.
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