All across Hollywood, we hear of actors and actresses passing up roles or indeed dropping out of them nearly every other day. Complications arise, scheduling conflicts are a very real concern and sometimes, the decision comes down to creative differences. Out of them all, however, few compare to Will Smith opting to star in Wild Wild West as opposed to the star role of Neo in The Matrix all those years ago. Arguably one of the more prominent career missteps in recent memory, Smith’s decision is cause for conversation time and time again, though the actor’s more recent choice to pass on a project is much more rational.
That project in question was Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed western drama, Django Unchained. Prior to Jamie Foxx securing the lead role, Will Smith was reportedly circling the part, and as the actor revealed during a recent roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter, it was a question of the film being angled as a vengeance thriller that sealed Smith’s fate.
“It was about the creative direction of the story. 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].”
While the core premise of Django Unchained had piqued Smith’s attention to begin with, the more he learned of Tarantino’s visceral western and its approach to violence ultimately led to him distancing himself from the project.
“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 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.”
Alas, it seems creative differences nixed a potential collaboration between Will Smith and Quentin Tarantino before it could get going in earnest. Mind you, considering the Leonardo DiCaprio was once in line to join Inglorious Bastards before assuming the villain role in Django Unchained, we wouldn’t bet against a Smith/Tarantino partnership at some point down the line.