Major casting for the Roland Emmerich helmed sequel to the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day has been completed with the addition of Jessie Usher to play the role of Will Smith’s stepson.
Rumored to be titled ID Forever, Part I, the studio refused Smith’s demand for $50 million for the two planned sequels. Instead, Usher will play his stepson, also a pilot, fighting off the alien invaders who have returned to finish the job.
Usher is best known for playing basketball player Cam Calloway in Starz’s series Survivor’s Remorse , Also signed for a lead role is Hunger Games Liam Hemsworth, and Jeff Goldblum, who will reprise his role as David Levinson from the original.
Bill Pullman will again play the president, but many of the characters will be unfamiliar to fans of the original. “We have like maybe half of the people that you know would know from the first film and the other half people who are new,” said Emmerich in 2013.
It’s been a rocky road to get the sequel made. The two creative heads behind ID4, Emmerich and Dean Devlin, weren’t sure they wanted to make a sequel at all. But when 9/11 occurred, Emmerich thought the time was right and the two began to develop a script. After several failures, they finally brought an idea to Fox and pitched the project in 2011. There was more tinkering with the script and Fox finally signed off in 2013.
ID4 grossed more than $800 million and made Will Smith a big star. But what made the film a hit was the chemistry of the cast and the comedy of Smith who stole just about every scene he was in. The mix of comedy, drama, and horror worked well as did the state of the art special effects for the time.
Can the sequel overcome fan expectations? Critics are no doubt lying in wait to pulverize the project, but the original received mixed reviews at best, which obviously didn’t hurt it at the box office. Emmerich has shown time and time again that he can succeed with risky projects — and fail miserably as well. For every ID4, he’s directed a Godzilla, perhaps the worst remake of a classic film ever made. But Emmerich is in familiar territory with the sequel and should make the project a commercial success.
The scheduled release date is July 4, 2016.