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10 Movies That Almost Starred Will Smith

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

After rapping about parents just not understanding and extolling the virtues of summertime with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Will Smith achieved TV stardom as the titular Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (where poor Jeff usually got acquainted with the ground, on the order of Judge Philip Banks). Soon enough, Smith was starring in blockbusters like Independence Day (1996) and I, Robot (2004), crowd-pleasing franchises like the Men in Black and Bad Boys films, and romantic comedies like Hitch (2005), plus earning critical praise (and Oscar nominations) for his work in the dramas Ali (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006).

As Oscar buzz continues to build around Smith's performance in Concussion, in which he plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who discovers the horrific after-effects of playing professional football, here's a look back at some of the could-have-beens in Smith's career.

1. SNAKE EYES (1998)

Smith was set to co-star with Nicolas Cage in the Brian De Palma-directed film. He would have played the role of Commander Dunne, which eventually went to Gary Sinise. Smith passed on account of not being offered enough money.

2. THE MATRIX (1999)

Johnny Depp was the Wachowskis’ original choice to play Neo in The Matrix, but Will Smith was offered the part at some point in the casting process. In 2004, he told WIRED that he had no regrets about saying no to the film, explaining that, “The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn't see it. I watched Keanu [Reeves'] performance—and very rarely do I say this—but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn't smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be. Let the movie and the director tell the story, and don't try and perform every moment.”

3. K-PAX (2001)

“I loved, loved, loved [the script for] K-PAX”, Smith admitted to MTV. “But it never really jelled in my mind. I always wanted to make that movie.” Kevin Spacey, who was originally offered the role of the psychiatrist (later played by Jeff Bridges), stepped in and played Prot instead.

4. OSMOSIS JONES (2001)

The live action/animation hybrid was planned to have featured Smith as the voice of the titular character. After script issues and conflicting schedules forced Smith to leave the project, Chris Rock took the role.

5. PHONE BOOTH (2002)

Colin Farrell ended up playing Stu Shepard in Joel Schumacher's claustrophobic thriller. Smith claimed he “loved” the script, but passed because the “bad guy’s story wasn’t clear enough.”

6. THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE (2002)

In Jonathan Demme’s remake of Charade (1963), Mark Wahlberg portrayed Lewis Bartholomew/Joshua Peters, a role originally played by Cary Grant. Smith was offered the part, but declined in order to star in Michael Mann's Ali (2001) instead. Which was a smart move, as Smith was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, whereas Charlie was ignored by awards shows and audiences alike.

7. MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005)

Originally the title roles were to go to Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman. Kidman had to leave the project when The Stepford Wives (2004) went over schedule. When Kidman left, Pitt also dropped out, leading director Doug Liman to consider pairing Will Smith and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Then Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett. When Pitt stepped back in, it was going to co-star his ex-fiancée, Gwyneth Paltrow. Then Angelina Jolie came along.

8. SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)

Brandon Routh played the one superhero Hollywood has seemed to have trouble finding success with since Christopher Reeve retired the cape because Smith turned the role down. Smith's explanation: “I had already done Jim West [of Wild Wild West (1999)], and you can’t be messing up white people’s heroes in Hollywood! You mess up white people’s heroes in Hollywood, you’ll never work in this town again!”

9. DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)

In 2013, Smith claimed that he turned down the titular role in Quentin Tarantino's slave-turned-vigilante epic because he believed that the bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) was the real star in the film. In 2015, he said he wanted to make the movie more romantic—“I wanted to make the greatest love story that African-Americans had ever seen.” Despite not seeing eye-to-eye with the writer-director, he said he thought the movie was “brilliant.”

10. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016)

Earlier this year, writer-director Roland Emmerich insisted that Smith was “excited” to reprise the role of fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller in next year's Independence Day sequel, with Vivica A. Fox set to come back as his wife Jasmine and a young actor cast as their son. But then After Earth (2013) bombed at the box office and Smith changed his mind. “In the very beginning, I wanted to work with him and he was excited to be in it but then after a while he was tired of sequels, and he did another science fiction film, which was his father-son story, so he opted out,” Emmerich explained.

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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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25 of Oscar Wilde's Wittiest Quotes
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By Napoleon Sarony - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On October 16, 1854, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. He would go on to become one of the world's most prolific writers, dabbling in everything from plays and poetry to essays and fiction. Whatever the medium, his wit shone through.

1. ON GOD

"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."

2. ON THE WORLD AS A STAGE

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

3. ON FORGIVENESS

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

4. ON GOOD VERSUS BAD

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

5. ON GETTING ADVICE

"The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

6. ON HAPPINESS

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

7. ON CYNICISM

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

8. ON SINCERITY

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

9. ON MONEY

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."

10. ON LIFE'S GREATEST TRAGEDIES

"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

11. ON HARD WORK

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."

12. ON LIVING WITHIN ONE'S MEANS

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

13. ON TRUE FRIENDS

"True friends stab you in the front."

14. ON MOTHERS

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

15. ON FASHION

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

16. ON BEING TALKED ABOUT

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

17. ON GENIUS

"Genius is born—not paid."

18. ON MORALITY

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."

19. ON RELATIONSHIPS

"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?"

20. ON THE DEFINITION OF A "GENTLEMAN"

"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally."

21. ON BOREDOM

"My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s."

22. ON AGING

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."

23. ON MEN AND WOMEN

"I like men who have a future and women who have a past."

24. ON POETRY

"There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope."

25. ON WIT

"Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit."

And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

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