Ethan Hawke passed up the chance to be in a blockbuster movie. The actor said he was sent the script for "Independence Day," but thought it was bad. He read a line to a friend: "Isn’t this a bad line? ‘E.T. phone home,’ that’s stupid." That's when he threw the script out the window. When he heard the audience roar with laughter as Will Smith delivered the line, he realized he hadn't gotten the joke. Hawke said that's when he realized he'd made a huge mistake.
Ethan Hawke turned down lead in ‘Independence Day’ because he thought it was ‘stupid’
Ethan Hawke passed on one of the biggest blockbusters of all time in dramatic fashion.
The actor stopped by “Conan,” where he told the story of turning down Will Smith’s role on 1996’s “Independence Day “because he thought the script was bad — and how it turned out to be one of his biggest mistakes.
“I’m driving cross-country with a friend of mine. I got the script to ‘Independence Day,’ and there’s, like, dollar bills attached to it,” Hawke, 47, said, setting the scene. “And I’m reading it to my buddy in the car like, ‘Isn’t this a bad line? ‘E.T. phone home,’ that’s stupid.’ And I’m going through it to the point where I literally throw it out onto the Texas highway.”
But Hawke quickly realized his mistake when he caught the movie during opening day with a group of friends and his girlfriend at the time.
“Everyone wants to go see ‘Independence Day’ and I’m like, ‘Alright, this’ll be amusing to see how bad it is,’ ” he told host Conan O’Brien. “I walk into the theater, it’s obviously sold out. Will Smith says, ‘E.T. phone home,’ and the place roars. I mean they basically give a standing ovation in the movie. And I’m sitting there going, ‘Oh my god.’ I really didn’t get the joke!”
The movie, which also starred Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, made over $300 million in the United States and over $800 million worldwide.