Let's first start off by recognizing that Jamie Foxx killed it in Django Unchained. Great. Now that that's been established, let's talk about how Will Smith turned down the role.
Quentin Tarantino wrote the part with Smith in mind. Way back when Smith declined the offer, he blamed his busy schedule. When he blamed his "busy schedule," it was actually an ego issue. The actor recently told Entertainment Weekly that he couldn't manage to take on the gig because Django wasn't the lead character.
“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” says the Men in Black star, whose departure opened the door for Jamie Foxx to play the role. Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’” [EW]