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Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake

by Tambay A. Obenson
February 6, 2013 7:04 PM
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Jaden And Willow

In case you missed the announcement last week, Willow Smith, who was to star in the upcoming Annie remake that Will SmithJada Pinkett Smith, and James Lassiter are producing, with Jay-Z (also one of the film's producers) scoring, is no longer going to star in the film.

At the time of that post, the answer to the "why" question wasn't public, although I suggested that it may have been because she's out-grown the part (she was 9 when it was first announced that she'd star in the film; she's 12 now).

Skip ahead a few days later, when, addressing the audience at an event called Real Talk with Sister Souljah and Will Smith at Philly's Temple University, poppa Smith said the following about Willow's exit:

"Willow was supposed to be doing 'Annie,' we got Jay-Z to do the movie, got the studio to come in and Willow had such a difficult time on tour with 'Whip My Hair' and she said, 'You know Daddy, I don't think so,' and I said, 'Baby, hold up!' I said, 'No, no, no, listen, you'll be in New York with all of your friends and Beyonce will be there. You will be singing and dancing,' and she looked at me and said, 'Daddy, I have a better idea, how about I just be 12.'"

He added further...

"The thing that had become very clear to me is the danger of a material world and focusing so hard on coming up with money or a house or a job. You focus so hard on those things, and sometimes you can lose focus on why you are doing it in the first place. The only reason to do any of that is to have love... I'm really learning through Willow the necessity that we have to snap ourselves back and refocus on the emotional needs of the people that we love. Someone's emotional needs can be very, very different from your dreams and what you think they should be doing and where they are supposed to be."

So, in a nutshell, Willow just wants to be a kid, like any other I suppose.

I understand. Poppa and Momma Smith probably had all these career plans for the kids, but Willow isn't really up for all that, apparently, which I guess means that Willow will be slowing down a bit - at least for now - and will instead focus on being Willow, a regular 12-year-old kid... with filthy, stinking rich, powerful parents, and the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce hanging around the house.

But seriously... I understand. Do you Willow.

Will Gluck has been tapped to direct the Annie film, which the Smiths are still producing. And as I wondered last week, assuming they still plan to go with a black lead, is this a perfect opening for Quvenzhané Wallis?

A key question will be how well she can carry a tune.

Sony is eyeing a fall production start date, so an actress will be selected likely in the next 6 months; maybe sooner.

Stay tuned.

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More: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Willow Smith

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  • Anonymous | March 6, 2014 6:40 PMReply

    The only reason to remake it is because we have to ghetto-fy everything in this generation. They did the same shit to the Karate Kid. Daddy loves to buy movies that are in the heart of caucasians and gut them and spit on them. Regardless, none of them will touch Aileen Quinn's performance.

  • artbizzy | February 8, 2013 11:48 AMReply

    Why remake Annie in the first place? You cannot touch the brilliant Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Albert Finney, Geoffrey Holder, Tim Curry and all those young actors and actresses in it. Not to mention it was directed by John Huston. The John Huston. Now Annie wasn't the greatest movie ever made but it was well done for what it was and had really top notch performances in it. Everything is just way too shiny these days. Just get it on the Netflix. Someone should write a musical about several African orphans adopted by one well meaning white family with a black maid from the Carribean of course. And the catch is the well meaning white family cannot stand Black Americans. Will their opinion change now that they've added more color to their lives? Get on it, screenwriters. It should be a comedy of course. The first song number could be called "It Was A War Torn Life Until Thankfully One Or Two Of Us Exotic Looking African Kids Were Rescued"

  • al | February 7, 2013 5:57 PMReply

    Clearly I'm out of the loop because the girl's reason for not doing the show makes perfect sense to me. What is the real reason that everyone but me seems to know????

  • Boris | February 7, 2013 1:17 PMReply

    @BONDGIRL, I totally agree with you. @FACTCHECKER "That's a great spin on this story. ... Too bad no one is buying it. Those kids live for the attention that their last name brings them. And so do their parents." What? live for the attention that their last name brings them! You are a JOKE! Firstly, they made their last name for what it is today. Your choice to buy it or not(as you put it). FACTCHECKER, I am almost certain if this family was of a different ethnic group, you probably wouldn't have a problem if "Those kids live for the attention that thei last name brings them!"...Also, choose your words very wisely with me because, I use "your own words" to respond. @Agent Smith, Are you serious? "No talent" what kind of an Agent are you? surely not show business. I will keep this one simple. Have you ever heard the old cliche. "The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree?" Well, both parents are great actors' and musicians. So why not their childrens be just as successful and keep their family legacy going. I think you need to quit drinking "Hateraid".

  • Bondgirl | February 6, 2013 11:19 PMReply

    Someone on the Today Show (believe it was Ann Curry) asked Quvenzhane to sing during a recent interview, and she sounded beautifully. She would make an excellent Annie.

  • Bondgirl | February 9, 2013 1:22 AM

    She wasn't fired, she was demoted to lowly correspondent. The 3rd hour interview was only a few weeks ago to promote her Oscar nomination.

  • Duh | February 7, 2013 5:39 PM

    Ann got fired a while ago.

  • FactChecker | February 6, 2013 9:22 PMReply

    That's a great spin on this story. ... Too bad no one is buying it. Those kids live for the attention that their last name brings them. And so do their parents.

  • Troy | February 7, 2013 5:37 PM

    She is a black female the world's favorite target.

  • Carl | February 7, 2013 5:36 PM


    You are a jealous prick! lol

  • Donella | February 7, 2013 4:13 PM

    She's only twelve-years-old. Can a little girl live without being kicked?

  • AccidentalVisitor | February 6, 2013 10:32 PM

    Keep it classy.

  • Agent $mith | February 6, 2013 9:18 PMReply

    You mean the fact that she had zero talent had nothing to do with it????

  • Troy | February 7, 2013 5:36 PM

    What is talent? Reality tv has exposed all those who have claimed any significance from having so called talent. People have ever only been famous for being famous. The talent never mattered people knowing you was the only thing that mattered. You can have all the talent in the world Susan Boyle until people know about you.

  • monique a williams | February 6, 2013 9:12 PMReply

    It's clear to anyone who has seen Willow out in the past few years that she is emotionally fragile and the LAST THING she needs is to be the focus of this production. Seems she knows herself better than her parents do. I hope the respite makes her stronger.

  • Troy | February 7, 2013 5:32 PM

    They did right by their daughter at the end of the day. Everybody knows themselves better than their parents do. They supported her decision and she is no longer doing the movie. They will never be dependent on their children like most people in the world. So I don't think that they forgot she was a child.

  • K | February 7, 2013 12:37 PM

    I think her parents forgot that she was a child. They talk about her being her own person, and letting her make grown up decisions, but she's just a baby. I understand it. Somewhere along the way it became her parents dream and not hers. But I'm glad she's out. I hope they keep Annie black, I hope it's a little girl who can sing really well. Maybe an actress who has theatrical, and screen background.

  • @RaygonEVOIFC | February 6, 2013 7:39 PMReply

    I agree! Ms. Wallis would be perfect. :)

  • AccidentalVisitor | February 6, 2013 10:36 PM

    Not if she can't carry a tune. It would be one thing if this was some kiddie melodrama but this is a musical. And these days I don't see them getting someone to lipsynch for the lead character in a musical.

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