[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ep, you read that right; Will ‘Welcome to Earth’ Smith will not, repeat not, be returning to star in the sequel to the 1996 sci-fi hit Independence Day. According to Director Roland Emmerich, Smith is now ‘too expensive’ to cast.
We’ve known for a while that a sequel to Independence Day was in the works, and it seems that we may even be gifted with two of them shot back to back. Tentative titles have also been suggested for the films, ID Forever: Part 1 and Part 2. Emmerich has said that he is keen for some of the original cast to return to the films (we may yet get some Jeff Goldblum action), but not the man himself Smith, who played daredevil pilot Captain Steven Hillier.
“Will Smith cannot come back because he’s too expensive,” Emmerich told New York Daily News, “but he’d also be too much of a marquee name. It would be too much.”
Emmerich is correct in his assertion that Smith is now a ‘marquee name’, as he puts it. The actor definitely has serious pulling power, and he seems to be acutely aware of it himself. Before Jamie Foxx was confirmed for the role, Smith was up for the part of Django Freeman in Quentin Tarantino’s latest Django Unchained. He passed on the role because he wanted to ‘play the lead’, and in his eyes (and the eyes of many), Django was very much a supporting character.
“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead…The other character was the lead!” said Smith, referring to the character of Dr. King Schultz played by Christoph Waltz, who later won an Oscar for the role. Smith certainly knows which side his bread is buttered; although appearing in the ID sequels would bring him a lot of exposure, he’s gone up in the world since 1996 and can now command a much higher wage bracket.
In 2011 it emerged that Smith had requested a fee of $50m to appear in both planned sequels – this was declined by Fox. The apparently Smith-less script for the first sequel is currently being rewritten by James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spiderman), and a release date for the film has been cautiously set for 2015.