Will Smith has learned a lot in his more than 30 years in showbiz, and has seen plenty of success, but he has also seen his fair-share of failures. But none was harder for him to handle than when his movie with his son Jaden “After Earth” bombed at the box office.
“That was a valuable lesson for me a few years ago with ‘After Earth.’ That was the most painful failure in my career,” Smith revealed in a candid interview with Esquire. “’Wild Wild West’ was less painful than ‘After Earth’ because my son was involved in ‘After Earth’ and I led him into it.”
But he revealed he didn’t focus on the movie’s failure for very long.
“’After Earth’ comes out, I get the box-office numbers on Monday and I was devastated for about twenty-four minutes, and then my phone rang and I found out my father had cancer. That put it in perspective—viciously.”
Smith revealed that for him, the high-point of his career thus far hasn’t come with a particular film’s success but rather came when he got to have dinner with two men he admired.
“I had dinner with Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali. I would say that was probably the high point of my career,” Smith said. “That was the pinnacle. Nelson Mandela was on my left, and Muhammad Ali was on my right. And so I got fully aware that I meant absolutely nothing in this world.”
Reflecting on society today, Smith touched on his thoughts on gun control and racism.
Smith said we are living in a “gun culture.”
“What we’re really talking about in this issue is people walking around the street with guns that can make a decision whether or not they’re going to kill someone, right? And that’s even more difficult, because there’s really no way back from that. This is a gun culture. And it’s painful for me, because I cannot figure out how to be helpful,” he admitted. “I’ve always been telling my sons, ‘We have to separate fault from responsibility—whose fault it is that black men are in this situation, whose fault it is doesn’t matter. It’s our responsibility to make it go right. It’s our responsibility. It’s a lot of people’s fault, systemic racism, and it’s a lot of people’s fault that the black community is in the situation that we’re in, but it’s our responsibility to clean up the mess.’”