11 Major Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

11 Major Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down [Or Was in the Running For]

“Will Smith, the charismatic and multi-talented actor who has left an indelible mark on Hollywood, needs no introduction. With a career spanning decades, he has graced the silver screen in a variety of iconic roles, from the wise-cracking Agent J in ‘Men in Black’ to the pursuit-driven Chris Gardner in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’ His dynamic presence and charm have endeared him to audiences worldwide, making him one of the most bankable stars in the industry.

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Yet, the fascinating tapestry of Will Smith’s career isn’t just about the roles he embraced; it’s equally defined by the roles he chose to decline. From sci-fi epics to superhero sagas, Smith’s journey in Hollywood includes a myriad of opportunities that, for various reasons, slipped through his grasp.

In this exploration, we dive deep into the cinematic what-ifs, revealing the 11 major movie roles that Will Smith turned down. These moments in casting history offer a tantalizing glimpse into alternate cinematic universes that might have been. Each role, a road not taken by Smith, offers a unique perspective on the actor’s choices and the projects he almost became a part of.

From the enigmatic Morpheus in ‘The Matrix’ to the iconic Neo in the same groundbreaking film, Smith’s decisions not only shaped his own career but also influenced the trajectories of the movies he opted out of. We’ll uncover the stories behind these choices, shedding light on why the Fresh Prince decided to pass on roles that would go on to define other actors’ careers.

So, fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a cinematic journey through the tantalizing ‘what could have beens’ of Will Smith’s career. Join us as we explore these 11 pivotal moments when the pursuit of other endeavors led him to let go of roles that would become legendary in their own right.”

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

Neo In The Matrix

While it’s impossible to imagine anybody besides Keanu Reeves in the role of Neo in The Matrix franchise, according to Entertainment Weekly, the Wachowskis’ original choice for the part was Will Smith. However, when the directors pitched the story to Smith in broad strokes, it didn’t make sense. So, Smith made Wild Wild West instead and later self-effacingly joked, “I probably would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it, so I did y’all a favor.”

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

Carter In Rush Hour

With Jackie Chan as Lee and Chris Tucker as Carter, Rush Hour became one of the most popular “buddy cop” franchises of all time. The role of Carter made Tucker a big movie star after he rose to prominence as a standup comic. Before Tucker was cast, the studio wanted a more established star to play Carter.

According to CinemaBlend, the part was offered to Dave Chappelle, Martin Lawrence, and Will Smith, who all turned it down. Lawrence and Smith had already done “buddy cop” banter to terrific effect in Bad Boys.

Phone Booth

In Phone Booth, we follow a man (Colin Farrell) who is trapped in a phone booth for a majority of the film and must carry the audience’s heightened attention during periods of great suspense. It’s a risky project to tackle, and there’s a reason it took a long time to get off the ground. Will reportedly passed on this movie because he didn’t quite believe in the villain’s story arc, feeling that the motives didn’t work well.

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

Superman In Superman Returns

When Bryan Singer’s Superman reboot Superman Returns was first in development, according to CinemaBlend, the role of Clark Kent was offered to Smith, but he turned it down. Will declined the role of Superman because he said he didn’t want to change the audience’s perception of the hero,

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

Jack Maine In A Star Is Born

The most recent remake of A Star is Born was a resounding success in the hands of Bradley Cooper, who made his filmmaking debut directing himself as musician Jack Maine alongside Lady Gaga as the budding popstar he mentors and falls in love with. Before Cooper tackled the project, the remake was in development for years. According to Glamour, Will Smith was one of the many stars considered for the lead role. Jennifer Lopez said in an interview that she and Smith were in talks for the lead roles early in the remake’s development. “Will and I talked about it, talked about developing the script. It just never took off. Projects are like that.”

Django In Django Unchained

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Quentin Tarantino wrote the titular role in Django Unchained – a slave-turned-bounty hunter who heads to a plantation to liberate his long-lost wife – with Will Smith in mind. Tarantino offered Smith the part, but he turned it down because he couldn’t reconcile the themes of the story.

Commander Kevin Dunne in Snake Eyes

Will Smith was initially set to play a role in the movie Snake Eyes but dropped out due to a salary dispute, and the role went to Gary Sinise.

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

Frank in Osmosis Jones

Will Smith was originally set to star as Frank in Osmosis Jones which starred Chris Rock in the title character. Smith dropped out due to scheduling and script issues, and Chris Rock replaced him.


K-PAX revolved around Prot, a man who asserts he hails from the planet K-PAX, and the psychiatrist tasked with unraveling the truth behind his claims. Regrettably for Will Smith’s fans, he couldn’t find a connection with the character of Prot and decided not to pursue the role. In his place, Kevin Spacey assumed the lead, delivering an unforgettable performance that garnered praise from both audiences and critics.”

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down

Independence Day: Resurgence

Will Smith opted out of starring in Independence Day: Resurgence to pursue other projects, including Suicide Squad. The film was made without his character, Captain Steven Hiller.

Movie Roles Will Smith Turned Down
TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, Thandie Newton, Mark Wahlberg, 2002
(c) Universal/. Credit: Ken Regan/Camera 5

The Truth About Charlie

Jonathan Demme sought Will Smith for the remake of Charade, titled The Truth About Charlie. However, Smith was unavailable due to his commitment to Ali, and the role went to Mark Wahlberg.



lisa coming to america“We’re happy to get the kind of money that jingles, but we’d rather get the kind that folds.” – Lisa, Coming to America

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