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It was way back in the spring of 2011 when word emerged that Quentin Tarantino wanted Will Smith to play the title character in Django Unchained. As an international star with box office drawing power, Smith might have seemed an obvious choice. But considering this story was of a freed slave wreaking bloody revenge against cruel plantation owners, Django was a role that would be more brutal than any Smith had taken on before. It spurred a lot of debate from movie lovers online. Could the oft-affable Smith believably play a Tarantino-level badass?
We never got to find out. By June, Jamie Foxx was the frontrunner, and in the end he snagged the role coveted by many, though not Smith. A year went by before Smith offered an explanation as to why he turned down the role, saying that he couldn't do it because of Men in Black 3's shooting schedule. However, as he begins promoting his upcoming vehicle with son Jaden, After Earth, Smith revealed the real reason he rejected Django Unchained. To EW, he explains:
“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!”
The other character he refers to is Dr. King Schultz, the role that won Christoph Waltz his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Smith went on to recount a discussion he had with Tarantino about the script's finale. (Spoilers ahead.) He says, "I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’” Because Tarantino refused to change that element of the script (when Schultz shoots Candie), Smith walked away from the project, despite calling it a "genius screenplay." Asked what he thought of finished film, Smith was complimentary maybe even magnanimous (depending on your point of view), saying, "I thought it was brilliant. Just not for me.”
I'm just going to leave this here.