Will Smith rejected Django Unchained role because it wasn't big enough

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Will Smith has revealed he turned down Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained because he felt he was not being offered the lead role.

Smith was rumoured to be in the running for Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning paean to the spaghetti western prior to production. Jamie Foxx ultimately took the role of Django and there were hints in the press that Smith was uncomfortable with the film's combination of anti-slavery polemic and blood-soaked violence. Now Smith has revealed he simply felt the part of dentist-turned-bounty hunter Dr King Schultz was the real lead. In the film, it is Schultz, played by an Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz, who finally takes out Leonardo DiCaprio's sneering Francophile plantation owner, Calvin Candie.

"Django wasn't the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead," Smith told Entertainment Weekly while promoting his new science fiction film After Earth. "The other character was the lead! I was like, 'No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'"

Smith added that he nevertheless much enjoyed the final version of the film, for which Waltz ironically won the Oscar for best supporting actor. "I thought it was brilliant," he said. "Just not for me."

Django Unchained turned out to be Tarantino's biggest ever box office hit, grossing a hugely impressive $413m (£271m) worldwide. A sizeable critical smash, it was nominated for five Oscars and the film-maker also took home the prize for best original screenplay last month.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 26th March 2013 12.23 Europe/London

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