Will Smith is a busy guy. In addition to promoting his most recent film, the NFL whistleblowing drama Concussion, he is continually inundated with questions regarding his high-profile role as the DC Comics villain Deadshot in this summer's Suicide Squad, as well as the possibility of a third (and fourth) installment in the lucrative Bad Boys alongside co-star Martin Lawrence. On top of that, Smith is set to star alongside Dame Helen Mirren in a drama titled Collateral Beauty, while also setting his sights on a return to the music world with a possible new LP and planned summer 2016 tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff. With the actor and musician keeping that many plates spinning, it only makes sense that he would be asked for his thoughts on the fate of Captain Steven Hiller – his character from the 1996 alien-invasion extravaganza Independence Day.
Actually, wanting to know Smith's take on how Hiller was written out of the film's sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, isn't entirely without merit. After all, ID4 was the film that propelled the actor from parent-friendly rapper and star of his own NBC sitcom to the man who owned the Fourth of July weekend at the box office. After Smith made the decision not to reprise his role, and instead put the fate of the planet in the capable hands of Jeff Goldblum, one of the biggest questions surrounding the film became that of how his absence would be addressed. The answer, then, came in the form of a semi-dispassionate fake news report found in the film's viral marketing campaign that declared the character dead from a military aircraft test gone awry.
Of course, the memory of Hiller's character will live on in the form of his onscreen son Dylan, played by Survivor's Remorse star Jessie Usher. Still, even though his fictional offspring will carry the Hiller fighter pilot torch, the revelation that his character had unwittingly cashed in his chips on a narratively relevant gamble with alien technology was still something of a shock.
"It was terrible when I found out my character died," Smith said, in an interview with Yahoo!, before revealing he and the film's director, Roland Emmerich, had spoken with regard to Hiller's fate, saying:
"I was working on Suicide Squad during that time. Roland 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."
Smith is nice enough to give the film's trailer the "looks really cool" stamp of approval and even goes the extra mile, suggesting he's bound to get emotional when Resurgence enters the air-conditioned atmosphere of movie theaters everywhere this summer. Hopefully, the actor will find solace in the fact that he is one of the most famous people in the entire world and is also attached to a potentially huge comic book property like Suicide Squad.
On a less personal level, it remains to be seen whether audiences are interested in a Will Smith-less ID4, but that question will likely be answered after the film's opening weekend receipts are tallied. Given the response to the film's first trailer, it would seem Resurgence isn't going to have much of a problem getting people into the theater.
Independence Day: Resurgence will open in theaters everywhere on June 24, 2016. Suicide Squad opens on August 5, 2016.