Will Smith is unstoppable. Whether it was for acting in Fresh Prince, starring in Men In Black, or winning Grammys for his music, everyone knows the rapper-actor from something. We sat down with the Hollywood mogul and asked him five questions about becoming one of the most legendary performers of all time.
1. You are by some measures the most successful movie star working today. What do you think is the secret to your appeal?
I’ve been told I’m very approachable. I seem like I could be a guy from your office or your neighbor or a man who lives in the little half-closet in your spare bedroom. When people see me on the screen, they think, “Yeah, I could see myself leaving him half a bagel for when he ventures out of the closet and skulks around the house while I’m at work.”
2. Fresh Prince was your first big break as an actor. Do you keep in touch with any of your co-stars?
Before he died, James Avery, a.k.a. Uncle Phil, would come over to my house every night and shave his face over my sleeping body. I’d wake up covered in his beard stubble, and I miss him. We were tight like that.
3. Your work ethic is legendary. What do you attribute that to?
I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents would sit me down and tell me that I was the only real person and everyone else was a robot, including them. I would cry and cry and tell them to quit it, but they never stopped insisting it was true. I think on some level I just want to prove to my grandparents I can work as hard as they did as robots.
4. How are things different for you compared to when you got your start in the ’80s?
Well, when I started, I was really just a kid, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I would try to do things like turn off a lightbulb by smashing it with a hammer or circle things I liked on TV with a big black marker. Sure, I still do some of those things from time to time, but now I have more money.
5. Do you have any fun projects coming up that you’re really excited about?
My grandfather’s dying words to me were “bleep, bleep, rrrrr.” I’m not sure what my next phase is, but hopefully it’s something that would make him proud.