30 Mei 2024

Will Smith Didn’t Want To Star in Men In Black…Until Steven Spielberg Changed His Mind.

3 min read


  • Will Smith initially didn’t want to star in Men in Black because he didn’t want to make two alien movies back-to-back after Independence Day.
  • Producer James Lassiter hand-picked Men in Black for Smith, but it was Steven Spielberg who convinced him to do the movie.

Will Smith might not have made Men in Black had it not been for Steven Spielberg. Back in the 1990s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star first made the transition from rap musician to TV actor before moving on to become one of today’s most successful and sought-after A-listers in Hollywood. And while the Oscar-winning performer (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard) seems to have gotten more press for slapping Chris Rock, since the 2022 Academy Awards, the actor tells Kevin Hart that he had absolutely no desire to star in Men in Black (1997).

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Smith said during an exclusive interview on Peacock’s upcoming Hart to Heart:

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“JL [James Lassiter] picked Men in Black. I kinda understood Men in Black a little bit, but I didn’t want to make Men in Black — that was the next year after Independence Day. So, I didn’t want to make two alien movies back-to-back.”

Producer James Lassiter worked with Smith on a slew of the actor’s most successful ventures over the years, which includes everything from Ali (2001) to The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) to Emancipation (2022). But while Lassiter may have hand selected Men in Black for Smith to star in, it was one of the film’s producers, Steven Spielberg, who closed the deal on MIB.

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Spielberg Swayed Smith to do MIB

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Men in Black III
Sony Pictures Releasing

Will Smith hadn’t even turned 30-years-old when he starred in the original Men in Black film, and his resume wasn’t nearly as impressive at that point in his career. However, it still took some convincing to get the Bad Boys and Independence Day star to don the now iconic black shades and suit, and Steven Spielberg was the one who helped make it happen.

Smith said in the same sit-down with Kevin Hart:

“Steven Spielberg sent a helicopter for me to talk [to him] — it landed at his house. And he had me at ‘Hello.’ But, yeah, he flew me in. And he said the coldest s—. He said, ‘Tell me why you don’t want to make my movie…. And I was like —”

Smith continued:

“And he put the ellipses at the end… It was the dot, dot, dot, tell me why you don’t want to make my movie. If he had continued, he would’ve said, ‘Joker, you know I made Jaws, right? You know I made E.T.’”

In hindsight, it’s obvious now that Smith made the right decision to heed Spielberg’s advice. Two years earlier in 1995, Bad Boys had been a box office hit (per Box Office Mojo). However, its worldwide take of $141.4 million paled in comparison to Men in Black’s global haul of $589.4 million. Following on the heels of Independence Day’s $817.4 million in 1996, Smith had taken another step toward becoming the Hollywood A-lister fans know today thanks to MIB.