Have Been Feeling Trapped by the Success I’ve Had : Will Smith
Will Smith talks about being aggressive and wild when he was 23-years-old.
It’s a bright sunny day in Los Angeles on Friday as we head to the YouTube Space where Will Smith, Clive Owen, director Ang Lee and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are meeting the press to talk about their upcoming ambitious film, Gemini Man. Along with the core team are visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer and Weta visual effects supervisor Guy Williams.
The event starts exactly on time at 12 noon. As the host called the cast and crew of Gemini Man on stage, we kept hearing someone cheering really loud and that someone was - Will Smith!
For us in the media, who had gathered at the event from around the globe, the most vital thing to do now was to grab the mic. Whoever gets the mic, gets to shoot a question to the Gemini Man, and guess who got lucky?
But first, a little backgrounder of the story of Gemini Man. The film has Willl Smith in a double role - one is a 51-year-old elite assassin, Henry Brogan, who wants to retire and the other a 23-year-old assassin named Junior who is trying to kill Henry by predicting his every move.
The younger version of Will Smith is a 100% digital human character portrayed by Will Smith himself through motion capture. This is for the first time that this kind of technology has been used in films to create a 100% CGI human.
While filming Will Smith played the older character, Henry, first and then he would go into motion capture on a sound stage and act against the video of his scenes as Henry to play Junior.
So, when I asked Will Smith how he kept himself engaged though he had to do the same thing over and over and over again for months, he credited his director Ang Lee for it.
“What makes someone an actor’s director is when they understand how to create certain circumstances for you to achieve the psychological and emotional space that they are looking for. So Ang was really good at separating Henry from Junior in the schedule. When you get loaded up into Henry and the shift is too abrupt then its hard to get your mind around it. So he did a great job at separating the time of Henry and Junior.”
And when I asked Will if he has any advice for his 23-year-old younger self, he said he would ask him for advice than give him advice.
“My younger self was wildly and insanely aggressive. At 23-years-old I was naive and ambitious and aggressive. There is a power to naive there, a power I am actually trying to get back in my life right now. So, I would be asking my 23-year-old self for advice more than trying to give one because he made some good ass decisions.”Will Smith, Actor
Will continues, “I wouldn’t have done it that way. He made some good calls. Last couple of years I have been feeling trapped by the success that I have had, and the decisions and choices I have been able to make have been smaller trying to protect Will Smith. So, on my 50th birthday I was like @#$% it and then I jumped off a helicopter over the Grand Canyon trying to get back to that youthful, fearless space. So, I would be interviewing him more than trying to give him advice.”
Smith, true to his style, ensured that the press conference remained a light-hearted affair even when the discussion veered into technical aspects of the filmmaking, often breaking into loud cheers for his fellow co-star Clive Owen and at one point imitating the grave instructions of his director, Ang Lee.
“Before we even met, Ang went through all my filmography and he grabbed things. He grabbed Six Degrees of Separation, Bad boys, Independence day. He was walking me through moments and he would say, ‘I love very much of what you have done in this moment here in Six Degrees Of Separation, in Bad Boys, this one was good but don’t ever do this one.’ So we sort of created a language of my old characters.”Will Smith, Actor
Will added, “Before you learn how to act there is a powerful thing that you have from not knowing. And it’s really difficult to recapture that not knowing.”
“It almost felt like learning some bad acting, like go back to bad acting, because the honesty before you actually learn where the light is, and you learn how to stand, you learn what makes people clap for movie stars and letting go of that stuff was really difficult.”Will Smith, Actor
The actor said it was a ‘surreal’ and almost scary experience to see his younger self on the screen for the first time.
“The first scene that I saw was one of my favourite shots in the whole movie, when Henry flips Junior over and then puts the light up on to his face. So, that was one of the first completed shots I saw. It was a little bit surreal, little bit weird and then I started getting excited about all the possibilities the young Will Smith would have.”Will Smith, Actor
Starring Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong, Gemini Man is scheduled to release worldwide on 11 October.
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