A lot of attention was given to the casting in Hitch, which saw Will Smith in the lead role. However, even more thought was given to his love interest in the film.
At one point, Cameron Diaz was suggested as a possible co-lead; but, according to Smith, racism prevented her from landing the role.
The actor said that Hollywood pondered to the problem of seeing a black guy and a white lady having s=xual relations and prevented the co-stars in the film from kissing. Smith claims that he instead kissed Latin beauty Eva Mendes – who was offered the role to avoid trouble.
But even though the actress may have landed the job because of her acting prowess, her race also played a big factor. According to Today, executives decided against casting a black actor with Will Smith in Hitch because they believed it wouldn’t appeal to viewers.
“There’s sort of an accepted myth that if you have two black actors, a male and a female, in the lead of a romantic comedy, that people around the world don’t want to see it,” Smith stated. “We spend $50-something million making this movie and the studio would think that was tough on their investment.”
‘Men in Black’ actor said, “How are you not going to consider Cameron Diaz? But Hollywood is nervous about a black man kissing a white woman on screen.”
“In the US, it’s still a racial issue. Ironically, Hollywood is happy to do it if the film is about racism. But otherwise they simply won’t do it and ignore it.”
Even Eva Mendes found that philosophy to be problematic. The Training Day star said that these viewpoints benefited her career, but she didn’t relate to them.
“I don’t even know what to say about it anymore,” she told Newsweek. “Certainly I’ve benefitted because I’ve got to work with Ice Cube, Denzel, and Will. But it’s lame. I wish the mentality wasn’t so closed.”
However, this wasn’t the only instance in which Smith was engaged in casting choices when race was a factor.
Recently, Roland Emmerich admitted to the Hollywood Reporter that the decision to cast Will Smith in Independence Day first faced considerable opposition. Thought was given to Ethan Hawke, but Emmerich believed he was too young. The studio gave Emmerich a list of reasons why Smith wouldn’t work when he suggested the actor.
“’No, we don’t like Smith,’” Emmerich was informed by the studio. “’He’s unproven. He doesn’t work in international [markets].’”
Dean Devlin, who was a writer for Independence Day, also brought up that his race played a part in the studio’s thinking. But finally, they yielded to Emmerich’s demands.
“They said, ‘You cast a black guy in this part, you’re going to kill foreign [box office],” Devlin remarked. “Our argument was, ‘Well, the movie is about space aliens. It’s going to do fine foreign.’ It was a big war and Roland really stood up for [Smith] – and we ultimately won that war.”
Meanwhile, Will has confessed he and wife Jada Pinkett Smith have marriage counselling to keep their relationship on track. The star says one of their first dates was an appointment with a psychoanalyst after being inspired by the self-help book ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. He said: “We wanted to start this off right, with someone to tell us what we were doing. “Jada read the book and said: ‘Oh my God, this is me.’