Independence Day could have been a lot different if Kevin Spacey had played President Whitmore, but that was actually the original plan. Over the weekend, the patriotic sci-fi movie celebrated its 25th anniversary. Starring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, the popular movie also featured Bill Pullman memorably playing the president of the United States. Given the iconic speech delivered by the character at one of the movie’s most pivotal moments, it seems clear looking back that the right man got the job.
Looking back at the movie in honor of its anniversary, co-writer Dean Devlin, who wrote the script with director Roland Emmerich, shed some new light on its production. One particularly interesting revelation was that Spacey was the first choice for President Whitmore. It was also revealed that the president was going to be depicted as more of a villain; as the character was overhauled once Pullman came on board to play the role. As Devlin explains:
“I knew Kevin [Spacey] since high school. We had just seen The Usual Suspects, an early cut. The original idea was to portray the president as a villain, and it was going to be a twist that he’s heroic when he gets in the plane [at the end of the movie]. That’s why we were pushing for Kevin Spacey. At one point we said, ‘We can get Kevin for $200K right now. In a year from now he’s going to win an Oscar and he’s going to [cost] $2 million.’ The studio executive said, “Kevin Spacey will never win an Oscar in my lifetime.”
Shortly after that conversation must have taken place, Spacey won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Usual Suspects. A handful of years later, he would win another Oscar for Best Actor due to his acclaimed performance in American Beauty in 1999. Oddly enough, Spacey would later go on to play a politician who becomes the president of the United States in the hit Netflix series House of Cards. Between 2013 and 2017, Spacey was consistently nominated for the Lead Actor award at the Emmys for the role, though he never captured the win.
Kevin Spacey’s career took a turn in 2017 when he was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by multiple accusers. He hasn’t been featured in a major role since appearing in Billionaire Boys Club in 2018, but he has since resumed his acting career. He will play a police detective in the Italian movie L’uomo che disegnò Dio, which translates to The Man Who Drew God. Franco Nero, the movie’s director, also stars in a lead role. Despite the controversy surrounding Spacey, Nero told ABC News that he was happy with his casting. “I’m very happy Kevin agreed to participate in my film,” Nero said. “I consider him a great actor and I can’t wait to start the movie.”
The release date for L’uomo che disegnò Dio hasn’t been officially set. As for Independence Day, you can watch the Spacey-free movie on HBO Max if you want to revisit the feature in honor of its anniversary. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.