The new Independence Day sequel is jam-packed with special effects, explosions and cameos from returning characters - but you might have noticed that one key ingredient is missing.

The original film's star Will Smith is nowhere to be found, save for a picture of his character Steven Hiller hanging on the wall of the White House.

In his place, 24-year-old Jessie Usher plays his stepson Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, following in his stepdad's footsteps as an alien-battling fighter pilot.

Smith's character, we learn in the opening scenes of the new film, died in action sometime after defending the world from its first alien attack in the 1996 blockbuster.


However, that wasn't always going to be the case - producers were eager to get Smith to sign on for the sequel alongside other returning stars like Jeff Goldblum or Bill Pullman.

A scheduling clash with another film was what forced Smith's hand, he tells BBC Radio.

"It was one of those things - I had a couple of films lined up, I had Concussion and Suicide Squad, and so it was a decision, timing-wise, between Independence Day and Suicide Squad," the 47-year-old said. "They were sending pictures from the set, and I was like, ahh."

"The world is in a place of nostalgia right now," he added. "Specifically in entertainment, there's such a pull for nostalgia, so it was just the perfect opportunity and it didn't work out."

While the long-awaited sequel to the 1996 smash has opened to woeful reviews, it has given the world the Independence Day My Street website, in which users can input the street they live on and watch it get obliterated by an alien apocalypse. Hours of fun.