Will Smith

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Not to be confused with Willi Smith.
For other people with similar names, see William Smith or Willard Smith.
Will Smith
A man smiling and holding his hands together
Smith in June 2011
Born Willard Carroll Smith, Jr.
(1968-09-25) September 25, 1968 (age 45)
West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names The Fresh Prince
Years active 1985–present
Spouse(s) Sheree Zampino (m. 1992–95)
Jada Koren Pinkett (m. 1997)
Children Willard Carroll Smith III
Jaden Christopher Syre Smith
Willow Camille Reign Smith
Parents Willard Carroll Smith, Sr.
Caroline Bright
Musical career
Genres Hip hop
Occupations Actor, producer, rapper
Labels
Associated acts DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mary J. Blige, Christina Vidal, Kenny Greene, Tichina Arnold
Website www.willsmith.com
Signature Will Smith signature.png

Willard Carroll "Will" Smith, Jr.[1][2][3] (born September 25, 1968) is an American 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.[4] 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 (1990–96) 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 11 consecutive films gross over $150 million internationally and the only one to have eight consecutive films in which he starred open at the number one spot in the domestic box office tally.[5]

Will Smith is ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes[6] despite the box-office and critical disappointment of his 2013 film, After Earth,[7] co-starring his son Jaden Smith. 16 of the 20 fiction films he has acted in have accumulated worldwide gross earnings of over $100 million each, and five took in over $500 million each in global box office receipts. As of 2014, his films have grossed $6.6 billion in global box office.[8] He has received Best Actor Oscar nominations for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness.

Family and early life

Smith was born and raised in West Philadelphia to refrigeration engineer Willard Carroll Smith, Sr. and Philadelphia school board administrator Caroline Bright. He also lived in Germantown in Northwest Philadelphia.[9][10] He was raised Baptist.[11] His parents separated when he was 13,[12] but did not actually divorce until around 2000.[13][dead link]

Though widely reported, it is untrue that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); he never applied to the school,[14] although he was admitted to a "pre-engineering program" there.[13] 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."[15]

Recording and acting career

Smith at the Emmy Awards in 1993

Early work

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,[16] 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".[16] They gained critical acclaim and won the first Grammy awarded in the Rap category (1988).[16]

Smith spent money freely around 1988 and 1989 and underpaid his income taxes.[16] The Internal Revenue Service eventually assessed a $2.8 million tax debt against Smith, took many of his possessions, and garnished his income.[17] 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.[16]

The show was successful and began his acting career. Smith set for himself the goal of becoming "the biggest movie star in the world," studying box office successes' common characteristics.[12]

Feature films

Smith's first major roles were in the drama Six Degrees of Separation (1993) and the action film Bad Boys (1995) in which he starred opposite of Martin Lawrence.

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.[18] 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.[16]

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,[19] 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."[20]

Smith in May 2012

In 2005, Smith was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for attending three premieres in a 24-hour time span.[21]

He has planned to star in a feature film remake of the television series It Takes a Thief.[22]

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.[23] Later that month, Smith starred in the film I Am Legend, released December 14, 2007. Despite marginally positive reviews,[24] 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".[25] A reviewer said that the film's commercial success "cemented [Smith's] standing as the number one box office draw in Hollywood."[26] 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.[27]

Smith was reported in 2008 to be developing a film entitled The Last Pharaoh, in which he will star as Taharqa.[28]

Men in Black III opened on May 25, 2012 with Smith again reprising his role as Agent J. This was his first major starring role in four years.

On August 19, 2011, it was announced[29] 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 and his son Jaden played father and son in two productions: the 2006 biographical drama The Pursuit of Happyness, and the science fiction film After Earth, which was released on May 31, 2013.

Smith will star opposite Margot Robbie, in the upcoming romance comedy-drama Focus, as Nicky Spurgeon, a veteran con artist who takes a young, attractive woman under his wing, but things get complicated when they become romantically involved. Focus will be released on February 27, 2015.[30]

Smith was set to star in the sci-fi thriller Brilliance, an adaptation of Marcus Sakey's novel of the same name scripted by Jurassic Park writer David Koepp. But the actor left the project.[31]

According to Variety, Smith is set to star in a football drama based on the GQ article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Smith would play Dr. Bennett Omalu of the Brain Injury Research Institute, a forensic neuropathologist who became the first person to discover Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a football player's brain. CTE is a degenerative disease caused by severe trauma to the head that can be discovered only after death. Smith's involvement is mostly due to his last-minute exit from the sci-fi thriller-drama Brilliance.[32] The yet untitled film will be directed by Peter Landesman and will be filmed in Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It will receive $14.4 million in film tax credits from Pennsylvania and is expected to start production in October, the Tribune-Review said.[33] Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw will play his wife.[34] Omalu will serve as a consulant.[35]

Personal life

Nobel Peace Prize Concert December 11, 2009, in Oslo, Norway: Smith with wife Jada and children Jaden and Willow

Smith married Sheree Zampino in 1992. They had one son, Willard Carroll "Trey" Smith III on November 11, 1992,[36] 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. Smith and his brother Harry own Treyball Development Inc.,[37] a Beverly Hills-based company named after Trey. Smith and his family reside in Los Angeles, California.[38]

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.[39] 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.[40]

Religious beliefs

Will Smith was raised in a Baptist household, and while he remained a Christian for years and never identified as a Scientologist,[41] he no longer identifies as religious.[42] 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."[43][44]

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."[45] Smith and his wife have also founded a private elementary school in Calabasas, California, the New Village Leadership Academy.[46] Federal tax filing showed that Will Smith donated $1.2 million to the school in 2010.[47]

Political views

As of 2012, Smith supports legalizing same-sex marriage.[48]

Discography

With DJ Jazzy Jeff

Solo

Filmography

Awards and nominations

References

  1. ^ "The Fresh Prince of Late Night". The Arsenio Hall Show. 1993. 4:50 minutes in. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-nBWDSIRUU.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ 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!
  4. ^ Sean Smith (April 9, 2007). "The $4 Billion Man". Newsweek. Retrieved July 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "Top Actors and Actresses: Star Currency - Forbes.com". Star-currency.forbes.com. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  7. ^ "Box Office: What's Behind the Disappointing Debut of Will Smith's 'After Earth'? - The Moviefone Blog". News.moviefone.com. 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  8. ^ Will Smith Movie Box Office Results
  9. ^ "Will Smith Biography (1968–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Where there's a Will, there's a way". Taipei Times. August 9, 2004. 
  11. ^ Strauss, Bob (December 14, 2007). "Will Smith on power, dogs and Cruise". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Rebecca Winters Keegan (November 29, 2007). "The Legend of Will Smith". Time. (registration required (help)). 
  13. ^ a b 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.
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Meg Grant (December 2006). "Will Smith Interview: Will's Roots". Reader's Digest. Retrieved June 27, 2006. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2002
  17. ^ Smith, Will (December 2, 2007). 60 Minutes. Interview with Steve Kroft. CBS. 
  18. ^ "Independence Day". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Smith has no Matrix Regrets". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  20. ^ O'Toole, Lesley. "Will Smith: The Total Film Interview", Total Film, February 2009, Issue 151, pp. 120-125, Future Publishing Ltd., London, England.
  21. ^ Daniel Saney (February 23, 2005). "Will Smith in Guinness Book of Records". Digital Spy. 
  22. ^ Snyder, Gabriel; Fleming, Michael (March 21, 2006). "U finds man of steal for 'Thief' feature". Variety. 
  23. ^ "Will Smith Immortalized At Grauman's Chinese Theater". HHWorlds.com. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  24. ^ "I Am Legend". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  25. ^ Will Smith: He is a legend[dead link] video interview with stv.tv, December 2007
  26. ^ 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. 
  27. ^ Barbara Walters Gets Up Close with 2008's Most Fascinating People", TV Guide. December 1, 2008. Retrieved on December 3, 2008.
  28. ^ "Will Smith set to conquer Egypt?". Jam Showbiz. March 23, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2008. 
  29. ^ "Will Smith making a new album? A producer says yes". Entertainment Weekly. 
  30. ^ "Warner Bros Sets 2015 Release Dates For 'Run All Night', 'Man From U.N.C.L.E.' And 'Focus'". 
  31. ^ "Will Smith Drops Out of 'Brilliance'". 
  32. ^ "Will Smith In Talks To Star In Ridley Scott-Produced NFL Concussion Drama". 
  33. ^ "Will Smith to star in "Game Brain" in Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Business Times". 
  34. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in Beyond the Lights, premiering at TIFF". 
  35. ^ "Actor Will Smith visits Lodi". 
  36. ^ Smith, Will (11 November 2013). "Happy 21st bday Trey". Facebook. 
  37. ^ "Treyball Development". Treyball Development. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Will Smith". Forbes. 
  39. ^ "Will Smith's Federal Campaign Contribution Report". newsmeat.com. Retrieved January 11, 2008. 
  40. ^ "The Nobel Peace Prize Concert". nobelpeaceprize.org. Retrieved January 11, 2011. [dead link]
  41. ^ "Will and Jada are not Scientologists". MSN Entertainment. March 18, 2008. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. [dead link]
  42. ^ "Mr. and Mr. Smith: Will and Jaden Psych Up for After Earth". New York Magazine's Vulture. May 2013. Archived from the original on May 27, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Smith Turns Down Cruise's Scientology Bid". Hollywood.com. December 1, 2006. 
  44. ^ Clark Collis (June 2005). "Dear Superstar: Will Smith". Blender. [dead link]
  45. ^ "Will Smith Gives $1.3 Million to Charities". The Nation. December 17, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  46. ^ 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. 
  47. ^ "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. [dead link]
  48. ^ "Will Smith supports gay marriage". skynews.com. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 

Further reading

External links