He’s a robot,” says the voice of Will Smith, referring to an early script by director Neill Blomkamp, which depicts an AI-controlled soldier, named David, who is sent to Earth in a mission to prevent the world’s most-powerful corporation from using its AI to take over the human race. The character will, however, have no beard—as it turns out, that’s how one goes to The Matrix with a prosthetic beard. “And I am bald,” Smith, 39, says in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of his new movie, Independence Day.
Smith has long been a fan of the robot genre and played the part of James Bond in the 2005 blockbuster The Spy Who Loved Me. As it turns out, he knows much more than he reveals, including the fact that this is the second installment in the highly anticipated franchise, which he’s worked on with Blomkamp.
Smith recalls that the original script for the film was called “The Great Escape,” so the director called that the “biggest mistake,” which was then used as the title of the next film. When it comes to The Matrix, he tells THR his idea changed slightly, in response to feedback from fans. “Originally, it was called ‘The Great Battle,’ and it was set in the future,” Smith says. “We had a huge fan base, people who love the comics. They loved that movie so much, they started writing letters to Sony, and saying ‘Please, please, please, just make it two movies! We’ll go to see it in three weeks!’ So, we had a whole army of people in Austin [Austin, Texas]. They were really thrilled that they could get up there and vote for us.”
“I don’t know about ‘The Great Escape’; the last one—I can’t remember how it came out—but I can say that the ‘Great Escape’ was all a bit cheesy,” says Smith, who adds that he didn’t realize that Blomkamp was referring to a previous script. “But that was the last one.”
While the film is about “this epic battle between humans and this giant giant machine,” Smith acknowledges he didn’t know anything about who would be in the fight. “It was just, ‘Oh, it’s a giant machine.'”
With Blomkamp and Smith shooting the movie in three weeks, Smith says he already saw a “perfect, well-written script” but that it wasn’t quite
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