During an interview on Kevin Hart’s podcast “Hart to Heart,” he says there was initially no interest when he was presented roles for “Men In Black” (1997), “Ali” (2001), and “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006).
Thankfully, his business partner, James Lassiter, was calling the right shots.
“My manager, James Lassiter, was the arbiter of taste. So in the heyday, the 10 movies I made at the top of my career, JL was choosing the films,” Will Smith told Hart. “He just had an eye. I didn’t wanna make ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’ I didn’t wanna make ‘Ali.'”
As for “Men In Black,” the actor didn’t have faith in pursuing the role since it would follow “Independence Day,” a film with an alien invasion plot.
He continued, “JL picked ‘Men in Black.’ I kind of 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.”
Smith was still hesitant to accept the role — that was until he met with Steven Spielberg, the famed director behind iconic films such as “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park.”
“Steven Spielberg sent a helicopter for me… I landed at his house and he had me at ‘hello,'” Smith explained.
Moving forward proved to be a wise decision for Smith.
During an interview with GQ, the actor said the original “Men In Black” joins “Pursuit of Happyness” in his personal top films.
“For different reasons, those are the two almost perfect movies,” he told GQ.