Will Smith’s Men In Black Casting Wasn’t The Director’s Idea

Whatever Sweetie’s insights were for suggesting Will Smith for the role of Agent Jay, Sonnenfeld agreed with them. So, how did he convince the head honchos over at Columbia Pictures and Amblin Entertainment to release their fixation on Chris O’Donnell? He didn’t; he did the reverse. Here’s what the director told Vulture:

“I had to go to dinner at The Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles with Chris O’Donnell, who was deciding between “Men in Black” and another movie. And I told him, ‘Here’s the truth. I’m not a very good director. I really don’t have a clue. I don’t think the script is very good. If I were you, I would take the other movie.'”

Every word that spilled out of Sonnenfeld’s mouth was a two-timing, bold-face lie. “I was trying to get Chris not to do the movie,” he said. “No, I think I am a good director.” His ruse worked to perfection. He recounted this story to the Huffington Post and explained that the next day, O’Donnell told him he was not interested in “MIB.” The director also revealed that it was none other than Steven Spielberg who personally wanted O’Donnell and instructed Sonnenfeld to have dinner with the actor at The Four Seasons. After Sonnenfeld made quick work of O’Donnell, he arranged a helicopter to transport Will Smith from a wedding in Philadelphia to New York for a meeting with Spielberg. Sonnenfeld said Smith and the revered “Jaws” director hit it off; the rest was history. 

Another gem from the Huff Post article is that executives originally wanted Clint Eastwood in the role of Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent Kay. Can you imagine Clint Eastwood and Chris O’Donnell in the leading roles of “Men in Black”? And speaking of gems, bless the heart of Sonnenfeld’s wife, Sweetie. It’s not everyday that the wife of a movie director earns the (unofficial) title of casting consultant.

Leave a Comment