Anthony Mackie and Will Smith are two hugely popular, charismatic and talented actors, so you’d be forgiven if the headline took you by surprise, but The Falcon and the Winter Solider star recently revealed that he once received a right cross straight to the jaw from the former Fresh Prince.
Of course, it was an accident rather than Smith maliciously decking Mackie for personal reasons, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America in waiting was nonetheless impressed that the Ali star had retained his prowess for pugilism two decades after starring in Michael Mann’s biopic.
It all came about when Mackie was invited to Smith’s birthday party, which was held during filming for Ang Lee’s box office dud Gemini Man, and after being chosen to present the man of the hour with his celebratory cake, a breakdown in communication led to the incident in question.
“Well, I got a funny story. Will Smith shot, what’s the movie. He had a movie come out last year, Gemini Man, and he shot it in Budapest. So, it was his 50th birthday. And my publicist called me and she’s like, ‘Will Smith is having a birthday party in Budapest. Do you want to present his birthday cake to him?’. So, I’m like, ‘Holy sh*t yes. It’s Will Smith. Of course’.
So, we’re all on stage. Will Smith does like a whole concert I’m on stage with Will Smith doing a concert. I’m losing my mind. Right? So, the cake comes out, we bring the cake out, Will Smith sees me and he goes, ‘Hey, Anthony Mackie’. I’m like, Will Smith knows my name. Right? So, I go to like high five. I don’t know what I was trying to do, but like, I was trying to hug him and he thought I was coming in for like a high five. So, he like tried to grab my arm and he punched me in the jaw so hard. Like he hit me with a right cross so hard. Then he grabbed me and he’s like, ‘You good?’. I was like, ‘I think so. I think we’re in a fight, are we in a fight?’. He’s like, ‘No, no, I’m sorry’.
He punched me in the jaw. Will Smith punched me in the jaw. He’s an angry human being. I know he meant to do it, there is no way you mess up a hug with a punch in the jaw. Yo, he has a right cross man. Protect yourself. Because the dude came in. It was a punch, but I took a punch from Mohammad Ali. I can say it.”
If anything, Mackie should have been the one punching Smith for how Gemini Man turned out, with a high concept and undeniably brilliant premise that had spent almost a quarter of a century stuck in development hell teaming up one of the world’s biggest movie stars with an Academy Award winning director for a futuristic action blockbuster that had no right to be as tedious as it was.
Fortunately, he didn’t take it personally, and you can imagine that Smith was quick to apologize. Besides, the idea of Anthony Mackie making a surprise appearance in Budapest to interrupt an impromptu concert by the birthday boy to present him with a cake, only to leave with a sore jaw for his efforts, is the sort of wild behind the scenes story that can only happen in the movie business.