At the 1996 premiere of Independence Day, the cast (and Roland Emmerich as director) were in attendance. Photo courtesy of Jeff Haynes/AFP via Getty Images
It's easy to see how Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlins Independence Day were the catalyst for Will Smith becoming a well-known rapper and promising actor in sitcoms. The film almost did not happen, according to the Hollywood Reporter oral story. Studio executives believed that international movie markets would not respond to a Black lead.
Devlin said that if they don't get the leads they wanted, they might just take the project to Universal. It turned out that international audiences would see a movie featuring a Black lead actor, to the delight of an incredible performance. This is just one of many fascinating stories from the oral historian, which also includes Jeff Goldblum talking nostalgically about jazz with Brent Spiner and early ideas to have Kevin Spacey portray the films heroic president. There are also a few odd asides from Randy Quaid, including that there was no press tour for the film and that he won a lot playing at a Casino during the shoot.
Devlin, Emmerich and their entire history of the project are the main focus. They follow the story from the rush to beat Tim Burton's similar-themed Mars Attacks to theaters to the fight for the movie's big White House explosion to commercials to finally sitting in the White House with Bill and Hillary Clinton while they watched the film. (Also Bill Pullman's big speech was just a placeholder. Devlin assumed that he would rewrite it but didn't get around to it before the film had to be shot.
It's a great read. The culmination of the conversation was with Steven Spielberg who praises the film and declares incorrectly that it is a blockbuster. Nobody can make a blockbuster like this anymore.