When audiences flock to see Independence Day: Resurgence this summer, they won’t see one of the original film’s big stars: Will Smith. Smith, who was best known as a rapper and former star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before Independence Day‘s monstrous success in 1996, revealed to Yahoo Movies his reaction to the news that his character has died in the 20 years since the last movie.
“I was working on ‘Suicide Squad’ during that time. [‘Independence Day’ director] Roland [Emmerich] and I had talked about it. The trailer looks really cool. I’m going to be sitting around with tears in my eyes when that one comes out… It was terrible when I found out my character died.”
Cinema Blend reported last summer that the new installment was originally going to feature Smith’s character, his wife and son—but according to Emmerich, Smith eventually tired of sequels. In the promotional website for the new film, a timeline reveals that Smith’s character Col. Hiller died in 2007 while test piloting a new plane designed using alien technology.
While Smith is out for this film, the IMDB cast list for Independence Day: Resurgence reveals his family is back: Vivica A. Fox stars as Jasmine and Jessie Usher is cast as Dylan Hiller. Other stars are returning, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, and—surprisingly—Brent Spiner as Dr. Brakish Okun. Okun was apparently killed by an alien in the original film; perhaps that death was not as permanent as it seemed.
Harry Connick Jr., who was in the first movie, does not appear on the IMDB list. The cast has increased with new additions Joey King and Liam Hemsworth on tap for Resurgence, as Entertainment Weekly reported last year.
Will Smith has little need for a new Independence Day installment to revive his career. He’s currently riding high as the star of Concussion, in which he plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, who helped make the connection between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Smith is nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Us Weekly learned he got the news from his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“I felt, like, a slap on my a** and Jada said, ‘You got nominated for a Golden Globe!'”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Smith said he found the role compelling because his son, Trey, played football.
“I think part of why I was a good person to tell this story is because I love football. And the conflict after meeting with Dr. Omalu when he broke down the science and the story, and I became impelled as a parent because I didn’t know. So I knew if I didn’t know, I knew that there were other parents that didn’t know. So it became a story I had to tell at that point.”
Smith has stiff competition for the Golden Globes nod, as he’s against Eddie Redmayne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bryan Cranston, and Michael Fassbender. He’ll find out if he’s the winner when the awards ceremony is broadcast on January 10.
Concussion is in theaters now. Independence Day: Insurgence will be released on June 24, 2016.
[Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images Entertainment]