Independence Day 2 writer-producer Dean Devlin reveals the original story plans he and Roland Emmerich had for Will Smith’s character. Released in 1996, Independence Day was both a huge smash at the box office with $817 million, and a huge career-booster for Smith as he transitioned from rapper/sitcom actor to movie star. Unfortunately, the much-later sequel Independence Day: Resurgence failed to recapture the magic of the original, pulling in just $389 million. In the wake of its box office failure, the disaster of Resurgence was largely blamed on the studio failing to lure Smith back to star as his original movie character Steven Hiller.


Whether 2016’s long-delayed Independence Day sequel would have been a blockbuster with Smith back in the pilot’s seat is something that can never be answered, but the original story writers Devlin and Emmerich had in mind for Smith’s character sounds more interesting than the movie that was finally made. Speaking recently to Yahoo! Entertainment, Devlin gave details about the story that was written for Smith and approved by 20th Century Fox before Smith dropped out of the project. Check out Devlin’s remarks in the space below:

“Before we wrote one word, we met with Will Smith and said, ‘This is the idea we have.’ He loved it and was super-excited to do it. We wrote not just one, but two sequels with him in mind and we handed them into the studio. They went crazy and greenlit immediately; the told us, ‘This is the best first draft we’ve ever read of any script. … It was a bit like Rocky III. He’d gotten rich and he’d gotten famous, and he had to get the eye of the tiger back you know? He’s a little too comfortable and it’s his chance to bring the old Will Smith out of retirement.”

Will Smith Dropping Out Ruined Independence Day 2

Independence Day 2 director on Will Smith's absence

Smith leaving Independence Day: Resurgence led to a mad scramble, with the script having to be totally rewritten in just two weeks according to Emmerich’s own account to The Wrap back in 2022. The resulting story had Smith’s character deceased, with the focus going instead to Steven Hiller’s stepson Dylan (Jessie T. Usher). According to Devlin in his new interview, it was the studio who mandated that the script zoom in on younger characters, though the movie did bring back older original Independence Day stars Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Bill Pullman. Devlin says the studio also wanted to scale back on humor, recalling “They said, ‘Modern tentpole movies don’t have comedy in them anymore,’ and I was like, ‘Have you ever seen a Marvel movie?’

20th Century Fox may have had some terrible ideas for how to pull off Independence Day: Resurgence, but even before they could wreck Devlin and Emmerich’s plans, Smith destroyed the movie’s chances at success by dropping out at the last second. Now plans for Independence Day 3 are on hold, perhaps forever, and Devlin himself is no longer involved with the franchise. What could have been for Independence Day 2 will always remain a mystery, but the original Smith-led story at least had some kind of direction, with Smith’s character seeking a Rocky III-like comeback after losing his way. Now Smith seeks such a comeback in real-life after the infamous Oscars slap, while the Independence Day series remains in limbo.

Source: Yahoo! Entertainment

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