There’s no doubt that starring in 1996’s $800+ million dollar grossing Independence Day is what turned Will Smith into the global superstar he is today. Before that though, Smith had to put in some work to get noticed, first as a Grammy-winning rapper and then as the star of a much beloved sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. When it comes to his successor though, all he had to do was do a mean pushup.
THR is reporting that director Roland Emmerich’s long-in-development sequel – possibly called Independence Day 2 or ID Forever – has finally found its lead in Jessie Usher, who is set to play Dylan Hiller, the now grown-up son of Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller from the original film. Usher (no, not that Usher) was the star of last year’s short lived – and apparently not very widely watched – Starz sports drama Survivor’s Remorse, but luckily for him he works out.
Emmerich revealed on his official Facebook page that the practically unknown Usher was given an audition purely after one of the director’s colleagues spotted him at the gym.
“My producing partner Harald Kloser noticed Jessie in between sets of pushups at the gym and gave him an audition. As they say, the rest is history!”
Note to self: Stop those acting lessons. Work out more. ????? Profit.
In all seriousness though, he’s not the first actor to be given a big time break after a chance encounter (our very own Charlize Theron famously got her moment after she was spotted crying in a bank queue), and he obviously must have impressed them enough in the actual audition to believe that he can essentially be a new generation’s Will Smith (who will not be reprising his role here).
A person who will be reprising his role though is Jeff Goldblum as the alien computer virus creating Dave Levinson. Emmerich confirmed on Twitter that Goldblum would be returning, as well as confirming the recent rumour that Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) will indeed also be playing one of the other leads. It’s believed that Hemsworth will be taking on the role of the son-in-law of Bill Pullman’s US President Thomas Whitmore from the first film. Although the movie’s plot is being kept under wraps, these castings definitely show that Emmerich is going for a generational passing of the torch here, which could work out nicely. Or come off forced and cheesy, only time will tell.
With Independence Day 2 set to hit in just over a year on June 24, 2016 (almost exactly 20 years after the release of the original film), and leads now all cast, it probably won’t be too much time before we start seeing and hearing something more concrete about the movie. As somebody who has had an undying love for the Independence Day since it was first released, I’m really kind of excited to see if Emmerich and co have it in them to recapture that magic.
Last Updated: March 5, 2015