Men In Black Director Talks ‘Underpromising’ The Movie To A Rising Star So He Could Hire Will Smith Instead

1997’s Men In Black features what is arguably Will Smith’s best role of his career to date, but like many Hollywood stories, there was another big name actor who almost got the part in the action movie instead of him. That person was Chris O’Donnell, who at a time had a number of hit movies like Scent of a Woman, The Three Musketeers and as Robin in Batman Forever. As Men In Black hits its 25th anniversary, the movie’s director recalls “underpromising” the ‘90s classic to O’Donnell so that he could get Will Smith on board. 

Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld recently shared that Hollywood producers’ first choice for the sci-fi comedy ahead of production was Chris O’Donnell for Agent J opposite Clint Eastwood as Tommy Lee Jones’ role of Agent K. However, Sonnenfield was dead set on Smith. Here’s how he steered O’Donnell away in his words while recently discussing the film with Insider:

I met with Chris [O’Donnell] and he had concerns about the script and had another movie offer. So I told him, ‘Yeah, we might never fix this script and I don’t think I know how to direct this movie.’ So he passed on the movie the next day.

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