Will Smith Explains Turning Down 'Django Unchained'

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Not so long ago, Quentin Tarantino was dreaming up his ideal cast for his then-upcoming Southern "Django Unchained." His tale of a freed slaved searching for his still captive wife was sure to drum up controversy, so a recognizable star was needed for the title role to ground the premise.

Tarantino's first choice was reportedly none other than mega-star Will Smith. The role would have been Smith's most controversial to date, so it didn't exactly come as a surprise when the actor passed on it.

But in a new interview with Empire (via The Playlist), Smith opened up about why he turned down the role of Django, ultimately allowing Jamie Foxx to step in.

Learn more after the jump!

For Smith, the decision came down to timing. According to the actor, "Men In Black 3" got in the way of making "Django Unchained," which Smith complimented for its script.

"I came really close, it was one of the most amazing screenplays I had ever ever seen," said Smith about Tarantino's screenplay. "I was in the middle of 'Men In Black 3' and [Tarantino] was ready to go, and I just couldn't sit with him and get through the issues, so I didn't want to hold him up. That thing's going to be ridiculous. It is a genius screenplay."

As fun as it would have been to see Smith really move outside his comfort zone, the two trailers we've seen so far seem to indicate that Foxx is really going for broke on this one.

You can check out a full report from the set of "Django Unchained" in the latest issue of Empire.

"Django Unchained" opens Christmas day.

Would you liked to have seen Will Smith in "Django Unchained"? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!