By Nick Romano
September 18, 2018 at 09:16 AM EDT

Ethan Hawke has been telling the story about how he turned down the Will Smith role in Independence Day for years. Over time, however, it seems he has become more comfortable about it because on Monday night’s Conan the Blaze director divulged his rebuff was more than some embarrassing “making fun of some of the lines,” as he previously put it to Larry King.

“I did see the guy who directed it the other night and now I’m insecure about telling it,” Hawke said, referring to Rolland Emmerich. But he told the story anyway.

The 47-year-old starts talking about how he thought he was “the bee’s knees” after Reality Bites and was getting a lot of job offers. He was on a cross-country road trip with his buddy at the time he was reading the script for Independence Day, going from Texas to New York and then deciding midway through to go to New Mexico.

“I’m reading [the script] to my buddy in the car. I’m like, ‘Isn’t this a bad line. “E.T. phone home.” That’s stupid.’ You know what I mean?” Hawke recalled. “And I’m going through it to the point where I literally throw it out onto the Texas highway.”

Yeah… he did that. And the rest of the story — about how he later went to see the movie in theaters and came to regret that decision — is, as they say, cinematic history.

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