09/07/2013 07:10 BST | Updated 08/09/2013 06:12 BST

EXCLUSIVE: 'Independence Day 2' Nearly Didn't Happen After Will Smith Pulled Out' Director Roland Emmerich Reveals...

The director of 'Independence Day 2' has revealed that the film nearly didn't happen, once Will Smith announced he wouldn't be taking part.

If fans were left dismayed by the news that Smith would not be returning to his role of Captain Steven Hiller in the planned blockbuster, it turns out the director wasn't exactly thrilled, either.

will smith

Will Smith in the original film, which made a whopping $816 million at the box office

Roland Emmerich, who steered the first film to global box office success to the tune of $816 million +, and is also in the chair for the next one, has told HuffPostUK how, when he first heard that Smith wouldn't be returning, he was prepared to rip up his contract.

"We wrote a script, first for Will Smith, then Will Smith decided not to do it, and for a moment, I didn't want to do it at all."

But studio execs at Fox soon came round to the idea that the film could still work, with more of an ensemble cast, less concentrated on one character, and Emmerich was prepared to be convinced.

"All my friends convinced me that 'Independence Day' is served better to do it exactly like the first one, as an ensemble one, so I sat down again with Dean (Devlin), and we wrote another script which Fox liked very much.

independence day 2

The original film was 'a phenomenon, not a movie' according to Emmerich

"But they felt someone from the outside should come in, so they decided to use the writer Jamie Vanderbilt ('White House Down'), and he's writing right now."

Are there going to be one or two more films in the can? It depends, apparently...

"We want at first to do one, and have the audience decide if they want to see another one, or even more."

Is the director terrified by the expectation of a follow-up? We've seen similarly hopeful sequels reach a sticky end when they finally reach the screen, but the down-to-earth Emmerich shrugs...

"Always, and you know what, I will judge it on the script. If the script is not good enough, I will not do it. It has to be really great.

"I have already visually created a couple of things, which I believe will be mind-boggling, but I have to see if the story and characters are strong enough, because I know visually we can do it again."

As for trying to match the original, which won two technical Oscars and was at the forefront of large-scale disaster filmmaking in the 1990s, Emmerich is equally sanguine...

"You cannot beat Independence Day. The original was not like a movie, it was a phenomenon. At that time, it didn't bother me, I was totally calm, but looking back, it was bizarre."

Roland Emmerich's next film, 'White House Down', is in UK cinemas in September. Watch the trailer below...