Jaden Smith was almost in Atlanta

Donald Glover said he was supposed to appear in an episode digging into an untold story from the pilot.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 09: Jaden Smith attends Peacock's New Series "BEL-AIR" Premiere ...
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Donald Glover had a busy weekend in Austin at SXSW, where he premiered season three of his hit FX show Atlanta at the Paramount Theater. The unconventional jokester was wholly himself as per Variety, even turning a disposable camera on the press pool as a prank. Glover revealed many insights into the making of his show, and one that stood out was the fact that Jaden Smith was supposed to appear in an episode that told the backstory of a character that gets shot in the pilot. “We never did it because Jaden Smith was busy,” Glover remarked, “We were supposed to release it online, just read[ing the script], which we still could do. Stephen [Glover] wrote it. It’s really good.”

Smith would have joined a list of cameo stars for the show that included Migos’ Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff, and also Katt Williams and Michael Vick. He’s collaborated with Glover before, but that was consumed in headphones instead of on the screen: Jaden Smith appeared on “Pop Thieves” and “Late Night In Kauai,” two songs from Glover’s 2014 Kauai EP under his musical moniker, Childish Gambino. Glover released Kauai the day after releasing his mixtape STN MTN (named after his hometown of Stone Mountain, Georgia, which is near the city of Atlanta); he later combined both into one project.

Seasons 3 and 4 were filmed in tandem and announced as the series’ final seasons. Of the decision to call it quits, Glover said, “All good things end. It felt like it was time to end. ... I don’t like it when people [are] 40 pretending like they’re 15 and shit. It’s annoying.” Glover also defended a 2020 tweet where he said that the only show that could step to Atlanta was The Sopranos — which he caught some flack for. He had a good attitude about it though quipping, “I talk my shit on the internet. I said Sopranos and shit. I’m not backing down from that shit. I’m holding my nuts out on that shit. I just want [audiences] to know this shit is good. It’s high-quality shit. I hope you can have cursing [in your story].”

It’s high-quality shit that Smith is missing out on his chance to be in. For what reason, we don’t know. What sounds like will be a character in the upcoming episodes is the series’ namesake city itself. While Glover admitted, “It’s our point of view; it’s not really about the place,” he added, “Although in Season 4, it makes a very heavy resurgence, as far as the actual place. Atlanta is a state of mind. Europe solidified how we felt [while writing] Season 3. [Director Hiro Murai] calls it our maximum season.” Zazie Beetz, who plays Vanessa “Van” Keefer, said of the new season, “All of the characters are out of their element, which allows things to rise to the surface that you would otherwise be able to, in habits and in comfort, suppress. And here, you can’t, because you have nothing to catch you. It’s a lot of truth and reflections of where we’re all at as ourselves and as people — as me, as Zazie.” Season 3 of Atlanta premiers on FX on Thursday, March 24.