‘Spies in Disguise’ Directors Knew They Wanted Will Smith from the Start

Spies in Disguise opens in theaters this week and stars Will Smith as famous super-spy Lance Sterling who turns into a pigeon when he accidentally ingests a ‘biodynamic concealment’ invention by young scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland). Now, Lance Sterling must find a way to stop a cybernetic villain from destroying the world as a small creature.

The film pays homage to several famous spy films, including James Bond, Mission: Impossible, and the Bourne trilogy. It also marks the first black lead secret agent in a film. (We are still waiting on Idris Elba to play James Bond, MGM).

Co-directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane knew they wanted Will Smith from the start, even before the character was drawn.

“We started off just coming up with a story. One of the first things we were doing is find somebody who would stand up against a James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Ethan Hunt,” Bruno said during the Spies in Disguise press junket. “What we did was really just looked to see who were our heroes growing up. The first one who had all that swagger who could be arrogant but funny, likeable and charming, and at the same time be a cool action star. It always came back to Will Smith.”

Bruno and Quane were not sure if they would be able to get Smith due to his busy schedule, but it didn’t hurt to ask.

“When it came time for our casting director to say who do we want to go to?,” Bruno recalled. “We were like ‘can we go to Will Smith? Is that something we could do?’ So, when we met with Will. Aside from passing out, when you get to meet your childhood hero, what really attracted him to the movie was the message of everybody working together.”

With Smith now as Lance Sterling, the directors wanted to be sure they had the character as authentic as possible.

“It’s about who is right for the character,” said Quane. “Make the world as you want to see it. [Will Smith] really just a great guy and great collaborator.”

Bruno shared, “From that point on between Will and all our cast, it was an amazing collaboration. It was never just ‘here are some lines, read it.’ We were constantly talking about making sure that all these characters felt real and grounded and authentic in the movie. We’re really proud of that.”

Spies in Disguise opens in theaters everywhere on Christmas Day.