*“Men in Black 3” marks the first acting gig for Will Smith in four years, but the Hollywood heavyweight didn’t spend the entire hiatus away from the business. Much of the time was spent producing projects for his Overbrook Entertainment shingle – like “The Karate Kid” remake starring his son Jaden.
Smith says working behind the camera is something that comes easy to him.
“My most natural lane I think is producing – the wide view, seeing everything that’s going on and helping and pulling people in,” Smith said, adding that “The Karate Kid” experience was particularly eye-opening because it was a remake.
“Working on a remake is interesting in that you start with hindsight, where you can see the patterns of why people cheer in a movie theater much more clearly, and you get to experiment with your ideas,” he said.” So, for me that was very informative.”
The entire Smith family flew out to the film’s set in China for the shoot – perhaps a strategic move for the famous patriarch, who said he learned early on how important it is for an actor’s overseas game to be on point, especially if their aim is to be a true “movie star.”
Below, he explains how Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis pulled his coat one day in 1990.
*Will Smith’s sequel “Men in Black 3″ debuted as the No. 1 movie over Memorial Day weekend with $55 million domestically from Friday to Sunday.
That bumps Disney’s “The Avengers” into second-place after three weekends on top. “The Avengers” took in $37 million over the three days to push its domestic total to $514 million and become only the fourth movie ever to top half a billion dollars.
Universal’s “Battleship” was No. 3 in its second weekend with $10.8 million, raising its domestic earnings to $44.3 million. Paramount’s comedy “The Dictator” took in $9.6 million to finish fourth in its second weekend and lift its total to $41.5 million.
The Warner Bros. horror tale “Chernobyl Diaries” opened at No. 5 with $8 million.
“Men in Black 3″ launched with a bit more cash than its two previous movies, which both had opening weekends of just above $50 million.
But the original “Men in Black” debuted in 1997 and “Men in Black II” premiered in 2002, when admission prices were much lower than today’s. That means “Men in Black 3″ sold fewer tickets than the previous installments.
“Men in Black 3″ reunites Smith’s Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K as they battle a new alien menace that travels four decades back in time to do away with the younger Agent K (Josh Brolin).
In the below clip, Agent K and O (Alice Eve) interact with Agent J (Will Smith) after his journey through time.
*The male Ukrainian reporter who attempted to engage Will Smith in a lip lock at the Moscow premiere of “Men in Black 3” has apologized to the actor.
The star lost his cool when journalist Vitalii Sediuk tried to kiss him on the lips before the screening in Russia last week, and he shoved the man away and gave him a light back-hand across the face.
Now apologizing for his behavior, Sediuk tells HipHollywood.com, “I’m sorry, Will. It was a splash of emotion. I do apologize for my behavior. I think it was too much. Will Smith is a person who I deeply respect as an actor. When I met him in Moscow, I wanted to do something to impress him. We have a Slavic tradition. I don’t kiss every man or woman when I see them in the street, but that time I decided to do that. Next time, if I meet him, I’ll just shake his hand.” [Scroll down to watch.]
As previously reported, Smith told David Letterman Tuesday that he wasn’t pleased by the ambush: “They were saying, ‘We’re sorry, that’s just his schtick’. Well that’s why his ass got schtuck.”
In the movie, he is pulled over in 1969 because he is black and driving an expensive car. At the Four Season Hotel in L.A. where he and cast members were promoting MIB3, he let it be known how he feels about living in the 21st century.
“I’ve always loved time travel and for this movie to actually dive into it, I realized that for Black people you really don’t want to do too much jumping into the past. Right now is like the best it’s ever been. So like with the time dial, if I could go forward with it, that would be a great thing.
“The thing that I’ve learned in my extensive study of time travel [laughs],” Smith mused, “is that if you change one thing you change everything. I am absolutely ecstatic about where my life is right now so I wouldn’t mess with anything. Everything that I’ve experienced, everything that has gone right or wrong in my mind, has turned out to be all right. So I feel like that’s the nature of energy. My life as I sit here today is absolutely perfect, so I’m not messing with anything [laughs].”
The choice to travel in time is like any other decision that affects everything around you. Fortunately for Smith, he chooses to think about how his movies are perceived.
“For me there’s nothing more valuable than how people feel in a movie theater about the movie. So, with awards that’s never been important to me. That’s what a small group of people thinks. It’s the maximum amount of people that can have an experience that will give them some little gem of something to think about, or talk about is all that’s important to me in making movies. The adjustment I’m making in my career right now is the clarity of what we’re saying with the movies. There has to be an idea. There has to be some message or some statement. Just because it’s a popcorn movie doesn’t mean you don’t have something to say. And to me, that’s hugely important.”
Another subject touched upon in “MIB 3″ is secrets. “In ‘Men in Black 3,’ we connected to the destructive nature of secrets,” Smith stated. “And that idea, whether you get that or not, when you look at it and think about it, it shows how a relationship can get repaired and go to another level through the exposure of a secret.”
The secret of which Smith speaks involves Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), that was initiated 1969. Josh Brolin plays Jones in 1969.
“Josh, coming into it that way, was amazing,” Smith declares. “He was able to deliver the same energy, and that was all Josh Brolin. People thought that Tommy Lee Jones did the voice for the Josh Brolin character. But Josh studied Tommy so thoroughly that it was almost identical. It was absolutely stunning. It’s crazy because you don’t really notice how good his acting is because you think you’re just watching Tommy Lee Jones. You don’t realize it’s actually Josh Brolin.”
Brolin makes an astounding debut into a franchise that Smith and Jones has gleaned into a multi-million dollar, international hit. But what fascinates Smith is the fact that his fans all over the world recognize him more for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“What’s crazy for me is that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. It’s like I’m the Fresh Prince everywhere in the world. It’s just amazing how that television show was really a stroke of luck. Because of the number of outlets for the show, 9-year-olds [now] think it’s new. So a 9-year-old kid in Moscow watching The Fresh Prince thinks it’s brand new when I show up. So the fresh prince has been a huge gift for me in that sense.”
So have your kids seen The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
“Yes. Jaden wants to know how I was allowed to wear the clothes I wore.”
How do you manage your kids’ success?
“I love producing my kids and my wife’s TV show and all that. I think that’s my most natural space in the business. I would have to say if I just fell into what was most natural for me, it would be producing or editing. That’s where I thrive. But I mean it’s been three years that I’ve been off camera. And I just had to get back to work because Jaden really wants to make movies badly. And just at the dinner table, he got a little bit of a predatory look in his eyes. He is so coming for me. I tell him all the time, Son, I’m going to teach you everything that I know and if you work hard, you can be the second biggest movie star in the world [laughs].’”
What do you teach your kids about failure?
“Well, first and foremost is that the idea of failure is a label. It has no bearing on what actually happened. You know, what actually happened can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you if you decide that it’s the best thing that ever happened to you. So for me, the big thing with my kids is you have to control how you label things. They’re going to become what you say it is. You know, so it’s very important to me that they understand the power that they have to create the lives that they want.
Like, Willow for example, we’re getting flack for letting Willow cut her hair. It’s so obvious to me that you have a little girl, and how best can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. Now, she can’t cut my hair. You know what I mean? But that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. You know, so to me there are things like that. So when she goes out into the world she’s going out with a command that is hers, and you can’t just touch her body if she doesn’t want you to touch it because she’s used to it being hers and she’s used to making that decision for herself. So it’s more about lumping the responsibility on them for their lives, as much weight as they can hold without breaking. As many decisions as they can make without breaking. That’s what we try to keep giving them until they can hold the full weight of their lives.”
Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Will Smith spoke for the first time about his headline-making smack of a male reporter who tried to kiss him during the “Men in Black 3″ premiere in Moscow.
The actor laughed off the encounter during his visit to “Late Show With David Letterman” on Tuesday, but warned that he’s not trying to entertain random make-out sessions with strangers on red carpets. [Scroll down to watch.]
“I didn’t beat up a guy! No, no. I was in Moscow and … we’re doing an interview and he says, ‘Man …,’ he was a reporter and he says, ‘I’m your biggest fan, can I have a hug, please?’ ” he told Letterman. “So I go to give this joker a hug and he tries to lean in to kiss me, you know? And … it’s just awkward, Dave.”
The reporter was from a Ukrainian program called “1+1.” After the slap, show’s crew tried to smooth things out with Smith. He told Letterman, “They were [like] ‘We’re sorry, you know, it’s just his shtick.’ and I said, ‘That’s why his ass got shtuck.’ ”
“Men in Black 3″ opens on May 25.