Why Isn't Will Smith In 'Independence Day: Resurgence'? The Answer Isn't So Simple

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a huge fan of Independence Day. Actually, I might be the ultimate fan. I can quote the movie beginning to end and I'm a staunch believer that there is no better comedy duo than Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith. So, when I discovered that my beloved Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was not going to be returning to the highly-anticipated sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, I panicked. One question stuck in my brain as I agonized over his disappearance: why? Why isn't Will Smith in Independence Day: Resurgence ?

In an interview with CinemaBlend, director Roland Emmerich said that originally, Smith was on board with the sequel, which was always intended to have strong father-son sentiments with Captain Hiller and Dylan. Then, Smith's film After Earth came out, another sci-fi movie with strong father-son ties. That movie didn't do well in theaters, and after its release, it seemed that Smith's interest in doing another similarly-themed movie waned. Eventually, he opted out of the Independence Day sequel completely, as Emmerich explained to Cinemablend:

"In the very beginning, I wanted to work with him and he was excited to be in it but then after a while he was tired of sequels, and he did another science fiction film, which was his father-son story, so he opted out."

That's disappointing for fans to hear, but perhaps it might be for the best. Although Smith being in the movie would undoubtedly have been exciting, it might've distracted from the actual plot. In the same CinemaBlend article, Resurgence co-writer and producer Dean Devlin stated that had Smith been in the movie, that would have made it a Will Smith leading movie, instead of, like the original, an ensemble film. Instead, the filmmakers chose to kill off Captain Hiller in a "alien technology training accident," Devlin explained.

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Yet it's possible that the team behind Resurgence might have killed off Captain Hiller before having a conversation with Smith. Although Emmerich claimed to Cinemablend that it was Smith's choice to not be in the film, in 2013, he told the New York Daily News that Smith was too expensive to include. Emmerich stated then,

"Will Smith can not come back because he's too expensive, but he'd also be too much of a marquee name. It would be too much. We have like maybe half of the people that you know would know from the first film (in the script) and the other half people who are new."

So what's the real deal? It's true that Smith is definitely a high-profile, expensive star, and it's possible that he didn't want to come back to the franchise. But judging from interviews, it seems like maybe, he actually did. According to Y ahoo! Movies, Smith was shocked to see that Captain Hiller had been killed off, saying, "It was terrible when I found out my character died." So the truth remains complicated.

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What isn't complicated, though? The rest of the movie's cast. Most of the beloved characters and actors from the first film are back: Goldblum, Bill Pulman, Vivica A. Fox, and Judd Hirsch. Aside from those old faves, some new faces are also being introduced: Jessie Usher and Liam Hemsworth. They'll play pilots who participate in a program descended from, you guessed it, Hiller's actions in the original Independence Day. The character's impact will be deeply felt in Independence Day: Resurgence.

Regardless of how good the new movie is and whether or not it's able to live up to the hype, one thing is clear: the legacy left behind by Independence Day is standing strong.

Images: Giphy (2); 20th Century Fox