Steven Spielberg Once Revealed to Will Smith Why He Never Hired the Actor Despite Working Together on ‘Men in Black II’

Published 08/01/2023, 6:00 PM EDT

via Imago

Steven Spielberg is a hugely influential and respected filmmaker. He has helmed numerous iconic blockbusters and beloved cinematic classics throughout his career. Additionally, the director has often been hailed as a visionary for bringing larger-than-life projects to fruition, like the Jurassic Park franchise. The director’s iconic take on the now fossilized creatures captured the hearts and minds of entire generations. Therefore, it is safe to assume that he has worked alongside several big names in Hollywood.

However, there is one notable movie star with whom he has never collaborated, at least as a director: Will Smith. And the director has a reasonable excuse for why.

Will Smith personally asked Steven Spielberg why he was never hired

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Spielberg and Smith have crossed paths on occasions throughout their careers, but they have not had the chance to collaborate as actor-director on a film project together. The closest they came was back in 2002 when Spielberg was an executive producer in Men in Black II. The filmmaker had to go and convince Smith to take on the role, as the latter was feeling unsure.

In a 2000 interview with The Morning Call, Will Smith revealed how he asked the director why he had never cast him for his movies, to which the filmmaker replied, ‘Oh, you’re too big for my movies.’  Notably, Spielberg never hands out the paychecks to his actors in one go. This goes against the usual way of paying big Hollywood A-listers like the actor. Therefore, Steven Spielberg tries to avoid involving big icons in his movies. Thus, so was the reason why he has never cast the actor.

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But this conversation struck a chord with the actor and helped him change for the better.

“The persona I created had become too big for the stories I want to tell,” feels the actor

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In light of his conversation with Spielberg, Will Smith realized a personal crisis for himself. The actor has established himself as a successful and beloved actor in Hollywood, renowned for his captivating performances in blockbuster hits such as Independence Day, Men in Black, and Hitch. However, beneath his confident exterior, he was troubled. In his memoir, he revealed feeling confined by the persona he had crafted over the years–a “talking charmer” who always had to be funny, likable, and heroic. This persona had outgrown the stories he desired to tell; stories that were more intricate, nuanced, and vulnerable.

Smith also shared how he decided to break free from his established persona and explore demanding and diverse roles that truly reflected his authentic self. He drew inspiration from his son, Jaden Smith, who encouraged him to embrace authenticity and creativity. His shift in focus was rewarding, as he recently achieved an Oscar win for his remarkable portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard.

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What do you think of Will Smith as an actor? Do you think he should collaborate with Steven Spielberg? Let us know in the comments below.

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Imteshal Karim

839 articles

Imteshal Karim is a Hollywood News reporter at NetflixJunkie. With a penchant for writing in multiple forms, he is a published writer with his works published in anthologies. A star at his college’s writing competitions, he loves telling a good story and hopes to tell impactful ones about the unexplored side of the Entertainment industry.

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