In New Orleans, work is underway on another Will Smith starring film – Emancipation. The project is directed by Antoine Fuqua, and Smith plays Peter’s slave, who escapes from a plantation in Louisiana after almost being whipped to death. Peter travels north where he joins the Union Army, then returns to save the remaining slaves.
On the occasion of an interview with GQ magazine, Smith admitted that so far he avoided appearances in films that deal with the subject of slavery.
Early in my career, I didn’t want to show black people in this light. I wanted to be a superhero and show that blacks can be as perfect as white people next to me on the screen. I wanted to play roles that Tom Cruise could get.
Smith first seriously considered participating in a production dealing with the subject of slavery when Quentin Tarantino offered him the title role in Django – The actor, however, rejected this proposal, which explains that he wanted to make films about a slave on the way of revenge. In another interview, Smith explains:
It was about the direction in which history was to go. The idea itself was perfect – a guy learns to kill to get his wife away, who is a slave. The idea was great. But Quentin and I could not come to an agreement. I really wanted to make this movie, but felt that it should be a love story, not a revenge movie.
His wish came true by the way Emancipation – As Smith states, the leitmotif is the love and power of black people’s love. In an interview with GQ, the actor admitted that he could work with such material, because the film tells how the love of black people makes us indestructible.
Behind Emancipation there is an Apple studio, but it has not yet set a release date for the film.