Will Smith says he rejected ‘Django Unchained’ because of Tarantino’s ‘creative direction’

Smith passed on the title role, which eventually went to Jamie Foxx

Will Smith has explained why he turned down the chance to star in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 western Django Unchained.

Smith was offered the title role, a 19th century slave seeking to free his imprisoned wife, but turned it down because he disagreed with the character’s motivation. Jamie Foxx eventually accepted the part, joining an impressive ensemble cast that also included Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson.

“It was about the creative direction of the story,” Smith told The Hollywood Reporter. “To me, it’s as perfect a story as you could ever want: a guy that learns how to kill to retrieve his wife that has been taken as a slave. That idea is perfect. And it was just that Quentin and I couldn’t see [eye to eye].”

“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,” Smith added. “I just couldn’t connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer.”

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Django Unchained opened in cinemas in December 2012 and went on to gross over $425 million (£280 million) at cinemas worldwide, making it Tarantino’s biggest ever hit. It was nominated for five prizes at the following year’s Oscars, winning one, Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz.