"Independence Day" is finally getting the sequel fans have awaited for nearly two decades, but its biggest star won't be coming along for the ride.
Will Smith, whose role in the 1996 alien-invasion blockbuster helped propel him to megastardom, will not be appearing in "Independence Day 2," director Roland Emmerich told the New York Daily News on Saturday. "He's too expensive," Emmerich lamented.
That admission comes hot on the heels of Thursday's announcement that 20th Century Fox would be bringing the highly anticipated sequel to big screens on July 3, 2015. The news capped more than a decade of speculation about the long-gestating sequel, but it was not immediately clear whether or not Smith would be involved. That uncertainty wouldn't last long.
"Will Smith can not come back because he's too expensive," Emmerich told the Daily News, "but he'd also be too much of a marquee name."
"It would be too much," he said.
Smith, whose latest film, "After Earth," was a rare box-office miss, has been linked recently to several other blockbuster sequels/prequels, including "Bad Boys 3," "Hancock 2," and I Am Legend 2." His next film, an adaptation of Mark Helprin's celebrated fantasy novel "Winter's Tale," finds the actor in a supporting role for the first time in years.
Bill Pullman, who played a United States president-cum-fighter pilot in "Independence Day," has already indicated that there's a role for him in the sequel. While Emmerich has not yet revealed what other actors from the original might be returning, he did hint that several of the movie's primary characters have been written into the sequel's screenplay, which he co-wrote with producer Dean Devlin and James Vanderbilt.
"We have like maybe half of the people that you know would know from the first film (in the script)," Emmerich told the Daily News, "and the other half people who are new."