Will Smith’s reality series The Best Shape of My Life and the release of his memoirs have painted the star in a completely different light, with his endlessly cool, confident and charismatic onscreen persona a million miles away from a man that’s been riddled with self-doubt and insecurities for decades.
In opening himself up to the public like we’ve never seen or heard from him before, Smith reveals that his career path was strategically designed and his public personality carefully cultivated to make him the biggest movie star on the planet, something he pulled off and then some.
Very few talents of the modern era can boast a track record of success like the former Fresh Prince, who remains the only actor to star in eight consecutive movies that earned $100 million at the domestic box office, eight in a row that opened at number one in the United States, and eleven straight that hauled in at least $150 million overseas.
However, the 53 year-old revealed to The New York Times that he’s no longer interested in maintaining his spot at the summit of the Hollywood A-list, with the focus now on paying it forward.
“Strategizing about being the biggest movie star in the world — that is all completely over. I realized that in order to enjoy my time here and in order to be helpful, it’s much more about self-examination. I want to take roles where I get to look at myself, where I get to look at my family, I get to look at ideas that are important to me. Everything in my life is more centered on spiritual growth and elevation.
So, for example, one of the most important things to me during this process is, I want to make sure that Aunjanue Ellis and Saniyya and Demi are elevated and the world sees their work. I’m not looking for people to clap for me. I have two young actresses that this is their first time around on this level. I want them to feel loved and protected. I want Aunjanue to get her flowers. That is where my attention is in this process versus my attention being on box office or awards. I have as close to zero self-interest in that area as could possibly be.”
Smith is currently the clear favorite to land the Academy Award for Best Actor thanks to a knockout turn in biopic King Richard, and having an Oscar under his belt could help signal a concerted shift away from big budget blockbusters and into meatier, more challenging parts.