Smith in June 2011
|Born||Willard Carroll Smith, Jr.
September 25, 1968
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Other names||The Fresh Prince|
|Occupation||Actor, producer, rapper|
(m. 1992—1995; divorced)
Jada Pinkett Smith
|Children||Willard Carroll Smith III
Jaden Christopher Syre Smith
Willow Camille Reign Smith
|Parents||Willard Carroll Smith, Sr.
Willard Carroll "Will" Smith, Jr. (born September 25, 1968) is an American comedic and dramatic actor, producer, and rapper. He has enjoyed success in television, film and music. In April 2007, Newsweek called him the most powerful actor in Hollywood. Smith has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, two Academy Awards, and has won four Grammy Awards.
In the late 1980s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show ran for nearly six years (1990–1996) on NBC and has been syndicated consistently on various networks since then. In the mid-1990s, Smith moved from television to film, and ultimately starred in numerous blockbuster films. He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office, and ten consecutive films gross over $150 million internationally and the only one to have eight consecutive films in which he starred open at #1 spot in the domestic box office tally.
Sixteen of the twenty fiction films he has acted in have accumulated worldwide gross earnings of over $100 million, and four took in over $500 million in global box office receipts. As of 2013, his films have grossed $6.63 billion in global box office. He received Best Actor Oscar nominations for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.
Family and early life
Smith was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and he has also lived in Germantown in Northwest Philadelphia. His mother, Caroline Bright, was a school administrator who worked for the Philadelphia school board, and his father, Willard Carroll Smith, Sr., was a refrigeration engineer. He was raised Baptist. His parents separated when he was thirteen, but did not actually divorce until around 2000.
It is untrue, though widely reported, that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); he never applied to the school, although he was admitted to a "pre-engineering program" there. According to Smith, "My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college."
Recording and acting career
Smith started as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, with his childhood friend Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes as turntablist and producer, as well as Ready Rock C (Clarence Holmes) as the human beat box. The trio was known for performing humorous, radio-friendly songs, most notably "Parents Just Don't Understand" and "Summertime". They gained critical acclaim and won the first Grammy awarded in the Rap category (1988).
Smith spent money freely around 1988 and 1989 and underpaid his income taxes. The Internal Revenue Service eventually assessed a $2.8 million tax debt against Smith, took many of his possessions, and garnished his income. Smith was nearly bankrupt in 1990, when the NBC television network signed him to a contract and built a sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, around him.
In 1996, Smith starred as part of an ensemble cast in Roland Emmerich's Independence Day. The film was a massive blockbuster, becoming the second highest grossing film in history at the time and establishing Smith as a prime box office draw. He later struck gold again in the summer of 1997 alongside Tommy Lee Jones in the summer hit Men in Black playing Agent J. In 1998, Smith starred with Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State.
He turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix in favor of Wild Wild West (1999). Despite the disappointment of Wild Wild West, Smith has said that he harbors no regrets about his decision, asserting that Keanu Reeves's performance as Neo was superior to what Smith himself would have achieved, although in interviews subsequent to the release of Wild Wild West he stated that he "made a mistake on Wild Wild West. That could have been better."
On December 10, 2007, Smith was honored at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. Smith left an imprint of his hands and feet outside the world renowned theater in front of many fans. Later that month, Smith starred in the film I Am Legend, released December 14, 2007. Despite marginally positive reviews, its opening was the largest ever for a film released in the United States during December. Smith himself has said that he considers the film to be "aggressively unique". A reviewer said that the film's commercial success "cemented [Smith's] standing as the number one box office draw in Hollywood." On December 1, 2008, TV Guide reported that Smith has been selected as one of America’s top ten most fascinating people of 2008 for a Barbara Walters ABC special that aired on December 4, 2008.
US President Barack Obama has stated that if a film were to ever be made about his life, he would have Smith play his part, because "he has the ears." Obama stated that the two have discussed the possibility of a film based on the 2008 election, but this may not happen until the end of the Obama presidency.
On August 19, 2011, it was announced that Smith had returned to the studio with producer La Mar Edwards to work on his fifth studio album. Edwards has worked with artists such as T.I., Chris Brown, and Game. Smith's most recent studio album, Lost and Found, was released in 2005.
Smith is set to star in the upcoming con artist tale comedy Focus.
Smith is attached to star in the supernatural thriller "Selling Time". Smith does not have an official deal in place but he is in the process of coming aboard. Coincidentally, he was attached to star in “Selling Time” several years ago before scheduling conflicts got in the way. Several A-list filmmakers are now circling the movie (including Spike Lee, Steven Martini and Derick Martini) though no decision has been made yet. Dan McDermott wrote and will revise the script.
It was recently announced that Smith has signed on to star in the upcoming film The City That Sailed, which will be directed by Shawn Levy.
The City That Sailed centers on “a father and daughter on the island of Manhattan as it breaks loose and sails across the Atlantic Ocean.”
Smith credits his father's dedication to his own involvement in the lives of his children. Smith married Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had one son, Willard Carroll "Trey" Smith III on November 11, 1992, and divorced in 1995. Trey appeared in his father's music video for the 1998 single "Just the Two of Us".
Smith married actress Jada Koren Pinkett in 1997. Together they have two children: Jaden Christopher Syre Smith (born 1998), his co-star in The Pursuit of Happyness, and Willow Camille Reign Smith (born 2000), who appeared as his daughter in I Am Legend. Along with his brother, Harry Smith, he owns Treyball Development Inc., a Beverly Hills-based company named after his first son. Smith and his family reside on Star Island in Miami Beach, Florida, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Sweden and Philadelphia.
Smith was consistently listed in Fortune Magazine's "Richest 40" list of the forty wealthiest Americans under the age of 40. He donated $4,600 to the 2008 presidential campaign of Democrat Barack Obama. On December 11, 2009, Smith and his wife hosted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway - to celebrate Obama's winning of the prize. During the 2012 presidential election Smith was one of the top fundraisers for the 2012 Obama-Biden campaign, hosting a fundraiser at his home, raising more than $500,000.
Will Smith was raised in a Baptist household, and has stated that while he remains a Christian, he is "a student of all religions, and I respect all people and all paths." Though he is not a Scientologist and has denied rumors claiming him as a member of the Church of Scientology, he has spoken favorably about it, saying "I just think a lot of the ideas in Scientology are brilliant and revolutionary and non-religious."
Smith gave $1.3 million to charities in 2007, of which $450,000 went to two Christian ministries, and $122,500 went to three Scientology organizations; the remaining beneficiaries included "a Los Angeles mosque, other Christian-based schools and churches, and [...] the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Center in Israel." Smith and his wife have also founded a private elementary school in Calabasas, California, the New Village Leadership Academy. Federal tax filing showed that Will Smith donated $1.2 million to the school in 2010.
With DJ Jazzy Jeff
- Rock the House (1987)
- He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper (1988)
- And in This Corner... (1989)
- Homebase (1991)
- Code Red (1993)
Awards and nominations
- "The Fresh Prince of Late Night". The Arsenio Hall Show. 1993. 4:50 minutes in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-nBWDSIRUU.
- "Jaden Smith demostró que sí conoce bien a su papá Will Smith". ¡Despierta América!. 2003-05-16. 5:50 minutes in. http://entretenimiento.univision.com/despierta-america/videos/video/2013-05-16/jaden-smith-si-conoce-bien-a-su-papa.
- Note: Reliable sources give Smith's middle name as "Christopher". Smith stated that he and his son, Willard III, have the middle name "Carroll" in an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. Smith and his son, Jaden both stated his middle name was "Carroll" in an appearance on ¡Despierta América!
- Sean Smith (April 9, 2007). "The $4 Billion Man". Newsweek. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
- "WEEKEND ESTIMATES: 'Hancock' Delivers $107M 5-Day Opening, Giving Will Smith a Record Eighth Consecutive $100M Grossing Movie!; 'WALL-E' with $33M 3-Day; 'Wanted' Down 60 Percent for $20.6M; 'Kit Kittredge' a Disaster!". Fantasy Moguls. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- Will Smith Movie Box Office Results Box Office Mojo
- "Will Smith Biography (1968–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
- "Where there's a Will, there's a way". Taipei Times. August 9, 2004.
- Strauss, Bob (December 14, 2007). "Will Smith on power, dogs and Cruise". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Rebecca Winters Keegan (November 29, 2007). "The Legend of Will Smith". Time.
- James Lipton (producer) (2002-01-13). "Will Smith". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 8. Episode 806. Bravo. http://www.bravotv.com/Inside_the_Actors_Studio/guest/Will_Smith.
- Jennifer Hillner; Wu, JS; Hyland, B; Lu, XD; Chen, JJ (December 2007). "I, Robocop". Wired 46 (8): 833–9. doi:10.1007/s11517-008-0355-6. PMID 18509686.
- Meg Grant (December 2006). "Will Smith Interview: Will's Roots". Reader's Digest. Retrieved June 27, 2006.
- Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2002
- Smith, Will (December 2, 2007). Interview with Steve Kroft. 60 Minutes. CBS.
- "Independence Day". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Smith has no Matrix Regrets". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
- O'Toole, Lesley. "Will Smith: The Total Film Interview", Total Film, February 2009, Issue 151, pp. 120-125, Future Publishing Ltd., London, England.
- Daniel Saney (February 23, 2005). "Will Smith in Guinness Book of Records". Digital Spy.
- Snyder, Gabriel; Fleming, Michael (March 21, 2006). "U finds man of steal for 'Thief' feature". Variety.
- "Will Smith Immortalized At Grauman's Chinese Theater". HHWorlds.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
- "I Am Legend". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
- Will Smith: He is a legend video interview with stv.tv, December 2007
- Gitesh Pandya (December 16, 2007). "Box Office Guru Wrapup: Will Smith Rescues Industry With Explosive Opening For I Am Legend". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
- Barbara Walters Gets Up Close with 2008's Most Fascinating People", TV Guide. December 1, 2008. Retrieved on December 3, 2008.
- "Will Smith set to conquer Egypt?". Jam Showbiz. March 23, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
- "Men in Black 4 confirmed". The Times Of India. July 21, 2012.
- "Will Smith making a new album? A producer says yes". Entertainment Weekly.
- "Will Smith Attached to Star in Fox's Supernatural Thriller 'Selling Time' (Exclusive)".
- "Becoming ... Will Smith". People. March 28, 2005. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
- Smith, Will (11 November 2013). "Happy 21st bday Trey". Facebook.
- "Treyball Development". Treyball Development. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
- "Hail to the chief: Mr Will Smith shall go to Washington". Daily Mail (UK). December 27, 2007. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
- "Will Smith's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". newsmeat.com. Retrieved January 11, 2008.
- "The Nobel Peace Prize Concert". nobelpeaceprize.org. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
- Megan R. Wilson (March 2, 2013). "Will Smith among additions to Obama campaign bundlers". The Hill. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
Ken Thomas (March 2, 2013). "Obama Campaign Fundraisers: List Of Top Donors Released". Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- "Will and Jada are not Scientologists". MSN Entertainment. March 18, 2008. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008.
- "Smith Turns Down Cruise's Scientology Bid". Hollywood.com. December 1, 2006.
- Clark Collis (June 2005). "Dear Superstar: Will Smith". Blender.
- "Will Smith Admits to Studying Scientology With Tom Cruise". US Magazine. November 20, 2007.
- Friedman, Roger (December 17, 2008). "Will Smith Gives $1.3 Million to Charities". Fox News. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- Downie, Heather (September 11, 2000). "What Goes on Inside Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith's School? The New Village Leadership Academy Allegedly Mimics Some Scientology Teaching Methods". ABC News.
- "Will Smith Invested $1.2 Mil Into School with Scientology Ties in 2010". Archived from the original on 2012-04-27. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- Will Smith supports gay marriage retrieved May 16, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Will Smith.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Will Smith|
- Official website
- Will Smith at the Internet Movie Database
- Will Smith at People.com
- Will Smith discography at MusicBrainz