Stepping into Hollywood with dreams of making it big in the world decades ago, Will Smith now can definitely say that he made it. Following a formula that he cooked up after analyzing the biggest box office hits, his plan was initially to earn the same as the highest-grossing actors of all time and make sure his movies are massive commercial hits.
And so, he was afraid to take risks according to him. Although his perspective shifted a little after watching a Quentin Tarantino movie, the rapper-turned-actor refrained until he could find a story he thought would speak more about how unity and love can impact the lives of the Black community and the whole world by extension positively.
And this is exactly the reason behind him taking up the role of Peter for the Apple TV+ drama Emancipation.
Will Smith wanted to be the biggest star
In an interview with GQ back during the filming process in 2021, Will Smith opened up about the rigorous Hollywood journey he has had. Smith explained that more than the struggle stories, he wanted to portray the present success of the Black community.
In the same way that White artists could put out one hit after another, without getting in too deep about struggles or history. He explained,
“I’ve always avoided making films about slavery. In the early part of my career… I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise.”
However, Will Smith’s perspective shifted slightly when he watched Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. “But I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance,” he noted. However, when he came across the biographical story of “Whipped Peter,” he wanted to bring it to life on screen as this was not exactly a slavery movie according to him.
Will Smith is evolving as a man
After years of finding his footing in the industry and trying to close the gap between Will Smith the star and Will Smith the man, he had finally found the balance he needed. As a result, the Gemini Man star noted that his primary goal for the next chapter of his life would be, “strictly to tell stories that help people figure out how to be happy here.” He added,
“The idea is I spent the first half of my life gathering, gathering, gathering, and now the second half of my life is going to be giving it all away.”
And with the Apple TV+ movie Emancipation, he hoped to do exactly that. One of the reasons he explained, was because, “The amount of money that Apple is paying to tell the story [of Emancipation] is unprecedented,” and with the Black Lives Matter movement he thought that the opportunity and the time to tell these stories on a global scale had finally arrived.
However, another major reason to him was, “This was one that was about love and the power of Black love.” He continued, “And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.”
It’d be safe to say that his performance in the movie really did touch the hearts of fans and took it to a greater level than simply a man seeking vengeance upon those who wronged him. Not only that but his performance in King Richards stunned even Serena Williams, whose father the movie was based on, into having to remind herself that it was not really her father onscreen.
As a result, with great performances and his eagerness to tell the stories that really matter to him, fans are waiting to see what more the Men In Black Star has in store for them in the future.
Emancipation is available for streaming on Apple TV+