Joe Carnahan Says He Left Bad Boys For Life Over Differences With Will Smith

Will Smith in Bad Boys

Development hell is a concept that isn't new to the film world. While certain projects seem to be promising and have the recipe for success, sometimes plans fail, and movies don't actually come to fruition. Highly anticipated action threequel Bad Boys For Life originally seemed like one of those movies, as it was been stuck in development hell for a number of years before finally going into production months ago.

Starting back in 2008, quite a few incarnations of Bad Boys' threequel were worked on before the current version was eventually nailed down. The Grey's Joe Carnahan was set to write and possibly direct Bad Boys III back in 2015, although he ultimately dropped out after the project stewed for a few years. Now he's explained the reasoning behind his departure, saying:

I just know myself, man. And I thought what we were doing at that point was the law of diminishing returns. I wasn’t servicing the story that I was really excited about telling, that the studio had green-lit. And again, this isn’t to throw shade at Will — it’s your face on the poster, it’s your name on the poster, you need to do things the way you want them done.

Well, this certainly sheds a light on things. Joe Carnahan doesn't seem to have sore feelings about the situation, but it appears that he had some creative differences with franchise star Will Smith. And since Smith is starring and producing Bad Boys For Life, he's got the right to have the final say. But that's just not how Carnahan wanted to make that movie.

Joe Carnahan's comments to Collider are in juxtaposition to the explanation that was given to his exit back in 2017. At that point, some reports indicated a scheduling conflict as the reason for Carnahan's departure. But it ultimately looks like it was creative differences, and a conflict with none other than Will Smith himself.

In his recent interview, Joe Carnahan was sure to not actually bad mouth With Smith over how Bad Boys For Life eventually came out. On the contrary, he understands what Smith has at stake for the project, and his own creative vision. But since they clashed, the director decided to exit the project, because he didn't want to work that way on the action sequel.

During that same conversation, Joe Carnahan was sure to pay his respects to Will Smith. Furthermore, he expressed how he was nervous to leave such a high-profile gig, explaining:

Here’s the thing. I love Will, he’s a great guy. It’s just, you get to a point where ... listen, I always say this. Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, you find me a motherfucker in the modern era that’s walked away from movies with those guys and is still working in some capacity.

It looks like Joe Carnahan harbors no ill-will toward Will Smith due to his Bad Boys For Life departure. And while he was taking a risk by turning down such an opportunity, the writer/director had to follow his gut. That eventually made way for directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah to get behind the camera for the new blockbuster.

Bad Boys For Life recently wrapped production, and is currently set to arrive in theaters on January 17, 2020. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.