Will Smith Talks Kids And The Highlight of His Career In Esquire

March 6, 2015  |  

Images courtesy of Esquire magazine

Will Smith won our hearts when he played a fresh-faced Philly kid in‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ and we followed him to his first critically acclaimed feature, Six Degrees of Separation, to Ali and all the way to King of the box office with a slew of slays like ‘Independence Day,’ ‘Men In Black’ and ‘I Am Legend,’ to name a few.

Will Smith really was our superhero, ‘Hancock’ anyone?

Until ‘After Earth,’ a major box office bomb starring him and his son Jaden, seemingly took away his super powers and him from the spotlight. It was his family that stepped into the spotlight and had us wondering , What happened to Will?

Well, he’s back! With a new number 1 movie, ‘Focus’ and a fresh attitude that reminds us what we love about Will Smith.

Here are a few highlights from his latest Esquire cover where he talks of falling in love with a co-star, never being good enough, and what his kids taught him about life.

Welcome back Mr. Smith!


On falling in love with a co-star

With Six Degrees of Separation, I got a taste early of the dangers of going too far for a character. My character was in love with Stockard Channing’s character. And I actually fell in love with Stockard Channing. So the movie was over and I went home, and I was dying to see Stockard. I was like, “Oh no! What have I done?” That was my last experience with Method acting, where you’re reprogramming your mind.


On the type of characters he’s attracted to

I’m attracted to characters who have a higher calling, who want to serve in ways where you get beyond the comfortable service and you get into the space of the sacrificial. And I really am attracted to characters who just want to do things that brighten the world. That probably is the central aspect of my personality.


On figuring out how to express himself through art

There’s so much that I want to say, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to say it in my art. I can only say it in ham-fisted, clumsy, nonpoetic ways, and I’m trying to figure out how to talk about life and talk about love and talk about pain and trials and tribulation in an artistic form.


On never being good enough

I’m never going to be a good enough father. I’m never going to be a good enough husband. I’m never going to be a good enough actor for myself. I just never will be, and I have to get comfortable with waking up every day and trying to move some little increment closer to the person I have always dreamed of being.

On What His Kids Taught Him

My kids taught me to redefine love. I had a vision. I saw a family in my mind that I wanted to have. And I was pushing and driving hard for my picture, and then I realized everyone has their own journey. I have to support what they want to do. I have to support the vision that they have for themselves, not my vision. That was excruciating for me.

On keeping his body tight

I like to look good, but I like my body to function well more than anything. For me, it’s as spiritual and intellectual as it is physical. And emotional. I’m a better husband, I’m a better father, if my body is physically functioning at the highest possible levels. I enjoy pushing myself.

On the highlight of his career

I had dinner with Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali. I would say that was probably the high point of my career.

On how he survived his biggest box-office failure

I got reinvigorated after the failure of After Earth. I stopped working for a year and a half. I had to dive into why it was so important for me to have number-one movies. I was a guy who, when I was fifteen my girlfriend cheated on me, and I decided that if I was number one, no woman would ever cheat on me. All I have to do is make sure that no one’s ever better than me and I’ll have the love that my heart yearns for. I had to accept that it’s not a good source of creation.

On the beating his kids take on social media

With this generation of kids growing up, the technological battering is almost the norm. They generally avoid the stuff. They’re really well-adjusted around this business and understanding the nature of having to take a battering. It’s a brutal world out there for young people, for everybody.

On Jaden owning one pair of shoes

Jaden, my sixteen-year-old, he has one pair of shoes. He has three pair of pants and he has five shirts. He has refused to be a slave to money.

To read more of Will Smith’s Esquire interview click here.

Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a social commentary blog. Before that she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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