Independence Day was ‘so bad’ that the star tried to destroy his script

Later today at 6:20 pm on Channel 4, Independence Day will hit TV screens. The legendary alien invasion movie is now known as one of the best action movies of the 1990s, but before it hit the big screen, Ethan Hawke loathed it.

In 1995, 20th Century Fox was excited to bring Hawke back as the film’s main star, Captain Steven Hiller.

At that time, in 1996, Hawke was a very successful actor in the film and television industry. He had recently released his critically acclaimed 1994 film Reality Bites, for which he was highly sought after in Hollywood.

But when the Independence Day script arrived on his desk, his hubris got in the way.

“I’m the bee’s knees, right?” Hawke recalled in 2018, “I’m driving cross country with a friend of mine and I got the script for Independence Day.” He added that he was being offered the lead role in the film before describing the younger self of him as a “big shot.”

“There are, like, dollar bills attached to [the script]”, Hawke recalled. But there was a problem: he absolutely hated what he read of the film.

Hawke recalled going to the movies that following summer with his girlfriend and a group of friends. It was Independence Day weekend, so naturally everyone wanted to go see the Will Smith movie. Hawke reluctantly agreed, and what he saw unfold in real time was devastating.

“We went in and he’s exhausted,” he recalled. Before adding that the ET joke she laughed at she essentially received a “standing ovation.” After he finished the movie, he asked his girlfriend, “It wasn’t that good, was it?”

Hawke’s unnamed girlfriend responded: “It was really good.”

No doubt he felt even worse about his decision when he saw the box office results for the movie.

Independence Day was made on a budget of $75 million, but grossed over $815 million. Smith, the actor who eventually took over the character of Hawke, earned a whopping $5 million.

However, the film was not only adored by the public. Critics also praised the film. After becoming the second highest-grossing film ever made (at the time), it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound, while it won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

20 years later, a sequel was released: Independence Day: Resurgence. Once again, Hawke was not involved in the film’s production. And once again, it was very successful at the box office. This time it starred Liam Hemsworth and grossed $389 million at the box office.

Independence Day is available to stream on Disney Plus now.

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