Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Will Smith in a great movie. You could argue we’ve never seen the actor in a great movie, but he did have the opportunity to be a part of one a few years ago. Smith passed on starring in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained. He missed out on a strong role, a role he didn’t feel was substantial enough. Smith, who’s on the Oscar hunt for Concussion, now claims he turned the part down for a different reason.

Learn why we didn’t see Will Smith in Django Unchained after the jump.

Why We didn’t See Will Smith in Django Unchained

Will Smith Collateral Beauty

Smith’s comments a few years ago on why he said no to the project were somewhat revealing about the actor’s process; he couldn’t play what he perceived as a supporting role. This is what he told Entertainment Weekly back in 2013:

Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead! I was like, “No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!” I thought it was brilliant. Just not for me.

To say Django isn’t the lead is a misreading of the film. Putting aside the fact Django is the titular role, look at the difference between the character in scene one and the ending. His change is remarkable, and the only significant arc in the film. Yes, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) drives much of the plot, but that doesn’t make him the lead. Also, Django does kill the villain. Calvin Candie (Leonardo Di Caprio) isn’t the big bad of the film. Candie’s protector, the real brain behind the plantation, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), is.

Another reason why Smith wasn’t onboard for Django Unchained? He took issue with the violence. Considering Tarantino’s picture takes place in one of the most horrific periods in American History, that’s a rather peculiar view of the film. Here’s what Smith had to say to The Hollywood Reporter:

I wanted to make the greatest love story that African Americans had ever seen. We talked, we met, we sat for hours and hours about it. 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. We can’t look at what happens in Paris (the terrorist attacks) and want to fuck somebody up for that. Violence begets violence. I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.

Maybe I’m wrong, but something tells me love wouldn’t have been enough for Django to reunite with his wife back in the 1858…

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