Independence Day: Resurgence Director Explains Will Smith's Departure

Smith

When 20th Century Fox announced that there would be a sequel to 1996's Independence Day, the first question on everyone's mind was, "Is Will Smith coming back?"

This far down the line, we know full well that Smith did not return to the franchise for its first sequel. Instead, he'll be popping up in Suicide Squad later in the summer as DC Comics anti-hero Deadshot. That said, we all still wish he was going to be welcoming some new aliens to earth like only he can.

On Thursday, ComicBook.com had the chance to speak with Roland Emmerich, director of Independence Day: Resurgence, about why Smith didn't return to the project. It turns out, he was pretty close to being a part of the sequel.

"In the very beginning, [Will Smith] was on board," Emmerich says. "He was actually very excited to do it but it got a little bit unlucky there. Even I needed kind of like two years to get through two scripts. We wanted to make two scripts because when we have Will we want to have two right away. We sent him the scripts just when he was doing After Earth and wanted to create his own trilogy and had just done Men in Black 3 which was not a good experience for him. So, he just opted out. And I pretty much opted out."

For a while, Independence Day: Resurgence was close to losing hope. However, Emmerich and those around him believed in the scripts he had so Emmerich dove in and figured out a way to get it done. "It took me a couple of years until I could replace Will as not just one actor but a whole generation which is probably the breakthrough which was happening roughly two years ago," Emmerich explains. "From then on, it was actually the story changed a lot. All the sudden, it was not about the old characters returning but it was more about the old characters handing it over to another generation in a very cool way."

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Independence Day: Resurgence represents the new generation with a slew of young actors like Liam Hemsworth, Jesse Usher, and Joey King while also bringing back original cast members Jeff Goldbloom, Bill Pullman, and others.

Independence Day: Resurgence lands in theaters June 24, 2016.