Will Smith and Rosario Dawson star in Columbia Pictures’ drama SEVEN POUNDS. The two share a very passionate love scene in the movie. “He was very respectful,” says Dawson of the romantic encounter. Smith jokingly responds, “Well Jada (his wife) told me: don’t embarrass me, go and show them what you’re working with.” Let’s just say, job well done Mr. Smith!
His most intense role yet, Smith brings a different kind of love story to the big screen
Beverly Hills, CA - He’s the biggest movie star in the world with films grossing more than $6 billion at the box office (we’re not even talking about DVD sales) and yet when he walks into the room, he gives you everything he’s got including a big hug, and a loud scream “heeeeyyyyyy, good to see you again…” as if I just spent election night at his home with all of his famous friends celebrating the Obama victory, Smith has a way of making you feel like you’re one of his best friends in the whole wide world.
It’s just one of the cool factors about the former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star. He’s super likeable, uber nice, very intelligent and always comes with an interesting story.
He’s a thinking actor, a brilliant man and we have literally watch him grow professionally and personally – now that he’s 40 and a father with three children. As a journalist you just want to pick his brain and see what he’s contemplating, you want to know his opinion and what he’s doing next.
Well, next up for Smith: his upcoming film, “Seven Pounds,” opening this weekend, an emotional drama about a troubled man with a horrible secret who plans to help seven complete strangers in a very unusual way. Smith almost totally will freak you out in “Seven Pounds,” but hang in there with him ---It’s worth it.
For the film, he's re-teams with Gabriele Muccino, who directed him to an Oscar nomination for 2006's The Pursuit of Happyness.
In the movie, He plays Ben Thomas, an IRS agent who at first seems like the most evil man in the world until he starts helping 7 everyday people trying to cope with various challenges in their lives. They are the seven reasons why you’ll love this film and what it stand for during this day and time.
Strangely, though, while Ben Thomas (Smith) is helping change people’s lives for the better yet, he’s bothered. So, you’re bothered? Why on earth is he so intense? And he remains so through most of the film.
If I tell you now, I’ll give away the movie and Smith has warned all of us reporters, “Don’t give away my movie!”
Here’s the interesting story: Smith’s demeanor got so intense he did the unthinkable: he brought his work home with him sorta freaking out his whole family including 10-year old Jaden, his son and 8-year-old Willow, his daughter. Older son, Trey, 16, wasn’t home so he missed the drama.
(Fortunately for Smith, “Seven Pounds” was taped at locations all around Los Angeles - sometimes working only a few miles from his house - so that meant he often made it home in time for dinner – which turned out to be not so fortunate for his family)
“It’s crazy,” says Smith. “When you start to program a character, you don’t realize that when its sinking in, one night we were sitting at dinner, and Jaden is Mr. Reality. He keeps me informed about what’s going on in the house, and he tells me the truth all the time. So we’re sitting at dinner, family dinner is a big thing in our house, and it was really quiet. So I lean over to Jaden, and ask “Jaden, why is it so quiet?” And he goes “cuz you look crazy!”
Out of the mouths of babes! Smith says he had no idea he has brought his troubled character home. “I hadn’t even noticed that I had gotten to that place.”
The place he’s truly hoping the world can get to after watching “Seven Pounds” profoundly can be called “inexplicably random acts of kindness.”
Co-star Rosario Dawson, who plays a young woman with a failing heart and mounting medical bills, asks Smith in the film, “Why do I get the feeling you doing me a really big favor. Smith’s character responds: “Because I get the feeling you really, really deserve it.” Out of that exchange, comes the beginning of what will be a beautiful relationship.
At its core, “Seven Pounds” is a heart wrenching love story - a very different kind of love story with all the passion two people can provide.
The love scenes between Dawson and Smith will absolutely have you rooting for the couple.
“He seemed a little shy about the love scenes and he kept putting them of until late in the shoot,” says Dawson. “I was nervous too.”
When Smith is asked about his shyness he explains why.
“For me, my worst nightmare is for an actress to come on my set and feel like I’m taking this as an opportunity to get a little quickie feel, you know, some legal cheatin’ goin on,” he says.
“I just need specifically women to be comfortable around me. I just don’t want to feel like I’m that dude. And doin a love scene, and her clothes are off, it just puts me in my defensive space but it also hurts the acting if I’m in that space. You’ve gotta find a comfortable space to feel free and brush up against her and all that and it’s not like “ooh…excuse me.”
But Smith’s wife, Jada, who refused to come to set that day - helped him quickly get over his shyness.
“Oh, no. Jada said “listen, I know you’re uncomfortable, but you better not embarrass me,” he recalls her saying “You do that love scene, you better show ‘em what you’re working with.”
And he did!
It’s no wonder after seeing the film that Smith says “Seven Pounds” truly changed his life.
“I’ve been exploring the idea of trauma, and the relationship between trauma and continuing life. With I Am Legend and then Hancock and now Seven Pounds I’m starting the character on trauma, right? And then I was asking the question “well what’s the difference between someone who falls into depression, and someone like Nelson Mandela, or Mohammed Ali, or Ghandi, or Mother Theresa who just keeps going in the face of, you know, the ultimate weight of humanity and life?” questions Smith.
“The thing that I discovered on Seven Pounds is that it’s purpose. When you wake up and you’ve dedicated your life to something beyond yourself, all is bearable. And it so exploded in my mind with this movie and this character, and if there’s been a movie in my career that I would say changed my life., it’s Seven Pounds.”
One of the secrets of Smith’s success has been his ability to “mix it up” a bit.
For every blockbuster like “Independence Day,” and “Hancock,” Smith also make an effort to release a more thought-provoking film like Seven Pounds.
"I have to challenge myself and push myself," Smith says. "My only job is to make sure I don't leave anything on the table, that I maximize what a young dude from Philly can do in the world of cinema. There's no telling what I can create at this point."
Two scripts he'd love to star in that production company, Overbrook, (named after his high school) is developing are the stories of Nelson Mandela and Marvin Gaye.
"I'm not certain I'm actor enough yet," Smith admits. "I love both of those, and I need to make sure I'm man enough."
There’s also talk of him playing President Barack Obama, but for now Smith is making plans to attend Obama’s inaugural in January. As for a front row seat at the swearing-in, Smith jokes, “I don’t think I can pull that off.”
But he can pull off one hell of a shindig to celebrate the historic moment. Word on the street, Smith has renting out a local club with all the Hollywood special effects at the pricetag of a small movie: $900,000.
So – how does the biggest movie star in the world remain so humble in the midst of all his success?
“I think because I’m scared,” he says. “I’m so grateful to be in the position that I’m in, to have been blessed with the things and … I don’t want to mess this up so I remains humble.”