Will Smith on avoiding films about slavery: “I wanted to be a superhero”

"I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise"

Will Smith has opened up about his past reluctance to make films about slavery.

The actor is currently filming Emancipation, directed by Antoine Fuqua, in which he plays a slave fleeing a plantation in Louisiana.

Discussing his role and why he had not wanted to make a film about slavery in the past, Smith recently told GQ that he “didn’t want to show Black people in that light”.


“I’ve always avoided making films about slavery,” he began, “In the early part of my career…I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero.

“So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise.”

Smith also recalled declining an offer from Quentin Tarantino to star in Django Unchained, now telling the publication that he “didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance”.

Discussing Emancipation, he explained: “This was one that was about love and the power of Black love. And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.”

Meanwhile, Will Smith announced earlier this year that he will be releasing a new memoir called Will.


The book will be published via Century on November 9, written alongside The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck author Mark Manson.

Smith’s memoir is billed as being “the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind”.