Where is Will Smith? Watch the Trailer for ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’

Independence Day, Will Smith, 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox via Everett

20th Century Fox recently released the trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence, a follow-up to the 1996 sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day, but a sequel has been in the works for years. In fact, writer and producer Dean Devlin stated that the world’s reaction to the September 11th attacks led him to originally consider making another Independence Day movie.

Independence Day: Resurgence will take place 16 years after the original movie and Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Vivica A. Fox will all reprise their roles from the first movie. While the trailer has given many fans a nostalgia high, it’s also left some people wondering the same question, “Where is Will Smith?”

Devlin had always intended for Smith to return for the sequels, but screenwriter James Vanderbilt penned two versions of the script (one with Will Smith’s character as the main character and one without him completely) in case the actor was unavailable. During contract negotiations, Smith asked for $50 million to do both sequels, so the studio just decided to go with the second version.

Instead of Smith’s character, Independence Day: Resurgence will focus on a new generation of heroes including Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison and Jessie Usher as Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, Smith’s stepson in the original film (if Smith was involved in the new movie, this part might have gone to Jaden “Eyes Aren’t Real” Smith).

Watch the trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence


But what happened to Smith’s character in the movie? Well the promotional website for Independence Day: Resurgence has the answer. The website features an interactive timeline which fills in the 16 year gap between Resurgence and the original film. On April 27th, 2007, we see a news clip which explains that Smith’s character, Col. Steven Hiller, was killed during a test flight.

“While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller,” the website reads, “Hiller’s valor in the War of ‘96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership led directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and son Dylan.”

“Killed during a test flight” is probably the least satisfying character death ever. That’s like finding out that Harry Potter died in a Quidditch accident later in life. Sure it makes sense, but it’s horribly depressing.

Independence Day: Resurgence will hit theaters June 24, 2016