Michael Bay’s hit film Bad Boys which made its debut in 1995, underwent a transitional phase before finally hitting the big screen. When Will Smith and Martin Lawrence started out, they weren’t even on the radar.
The original film was supposed to feature actors Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey. But after Michael Bay was hired to lead the project, the scene he did with Lovitz and Carvey wasn’t up to the task.
“We’d looked at a bunch of commercial directors because we’d had success with Tony Scott, and the one reel that stood out was Michael’s,” Bad Boys producer Jerry Bruckheimer once told GQ. “It had a wonderful sense of humor and a unique visual style—like nobody else. Michael did a test scene with Jon and Dana, but Disney didn’t like the test.”
While Carvey and Lovitz were absent, the studio briefly considered Arsenio Hall to direct the movie. But incapable of getting Hall, they found their official lead at superstar Martin Lawrence. Lawrence, however, would have an enormous influence to get Smith on board one of his breakthrough movie roles.
“I was riding down the street one time and I saw him, so I yelled out of the car, asking if he would do Bad Boys. Laurence Fishburne shook his head no. And then Michael kind of handpicked Will [Smith],” Lawrence remembered.
Bay, however, might not have chosen Smith without Lawrence’s insistence. Speaking on All The Smoke, Smith recalled the studio watching Eddie Murphy do Bad Boys before landing on him.
“They wanted him to do it with Eddie,” Smith said. “And Martin’s sister was like, ‘You should do that with Will.’ Martin called me, we sat there, we had one meeting.”