When it was reported yesterday that Will Smith would probably be absent from an Independence Day sequel, the overwhelming response across the Internet seemed to be split between people bashing Smith for pulling big paydays on expensive fluff like M. Night Shyamalan’s much-maligned After Earth and people bashing Smith for not willing to take a pay cut to return to one of the many summer blockbusters that gave his name its marquee presence in the first place. Not a lot of people seemed to think that Smith’s presence in Roland Emmerich’s sequel was absolutely necessary. Sure, he was one of the heroes, but we’ve essentially seen Smith pull of that same bravado-filled performance in nearly every film he's made since. Give Steven Hiller a celebratory statue and let’s focus on some of the film’s more nuanced characters, shall we?
Movies.com, whose Erik Davis recently moderated a Q&A with Emmerich in promotion for his upcoming action flick White House Down, reports Emmerich’s confirmation that both Jeff Goldblum, who played the nebbish genius David Levinson, and Bill Pullman, who played the always inspirational President Thomas Whitmore, will be returning to reprise their roles from the first film. To quote Levinson, adopting his best Elvis accent: "Oh, thank you very much."
Unfortunately, the director didn’t get into specifics on the roles that either of the characters will play in the sequel, but Emmerich’s previously revealed details about the plot sets the story 20 years after the first film’s events, and the global repercussions of the alien attacks. But if we use our brains and our common knowledge of the world as we already know it, chances are Levinson will still have an awkward relationship with his father – and we will be highly displeased if Judd Hirsch doesn’t come back for that role – and former President Whitmore will join forces with another past President in order to raise money for other global disasters.
Emmerich did go on to say he hasn’t shown Smith a final version of the film’s screenplay, and that he hopes that a cameo can be worked out to "pass the torch" to Hiller’s stepson, who was hinted at being a major player in the new film. You can’t tell me the guy who stops aliens from destroying the planet doesn’t get to be president one day, so maybe Hiller got to beat Obama to the punch as the first black head of state.
I watched the film just the other day for the first time in well over a decade and was surprised by how much fun I had watching it, even during its corniest moments. I’m usually against sequels ripping off their original films, but if this movie doesn’t feature Goldblum’s drunken nervousness and Whitmore giving a speech to end all speeches, then I hope the aliens win.
Independence Day 2 is already set for a July 3, 2015 release date. Check out the film’s original trailer below. Just picture everyone with a few more wrinkles now.