Will Smith’s failure at the box office with After Earth was a crushing blow for the actor and rapper, but he’s still making films. According to People Magazine, Smith admitted at a press conference that After Earth had some lasting effects, including a feeling like his latest film, Focus, marks a turning point for Smith’s career.
Speaking at a press conference for Focus in California, Will Smith said, “For me, this film really marks a transition in my life and emotionally and in my career.”
“After the failure of After Earth, a thing got broken in my mind. I was like, ‘Oh, wow. I’m still alive. Oh, wow. Actually, I still am me, even though the movie didn’t open number one. Wait. I can still get hired on another movie.'”
Surprisingly enough, Will Smith’s mind wasn’t already broken from Wild Wild West — the 1999 movie that was almost universally panned by audiences and critics. That movie also sunk in the box office, especially painful after the $170 million budget (at least After Earth was made for only $130 million.) Apparently, that failure was not quite on the same level.
Smith went on to talk about his evolving mindset.
“I realized that I still was a good person. So when I went into Focus, I completely released the concept of goal orientation and got into path orientation. This moment, this second, these people, this interaction… It is a huge relief for me to not care whether or not Focus is number one or number 10 at the box office.”
He went on to say that he approached his work on Focus as more an artist, what affect that will have on his performance is anyone’s guess.
Once again, it seems strange that After Earth was the catalyst that changed Will Smith’s mindset. Men in Black 3 also under-performed, albeit no where nearly as bad as Wild Wild West.
Smith even turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix to be in Wild Wild West, and afterwards he didn’t regret it.
According to an interview with Wired, Smith said that the pitch for The Matrix was difficult to understand, and he just couldn’t see it at the time. Later admitting that he would have “totally messed up” the role, and believed Keanu Reeves was better for it anyways. Meaning that the pitch involving a gigantic, steam-powered mechanical spider was far more appealing.
In any case, Will Smith has proven his acting chops with more than enough box-office hits to make up for the duds. His work in I Am Legend, The Pursuit of Happyness, and the first Men in Black has been acclaimed by critics, securing him a strong future in acting.
Will his latest film, Focus, about a con-man going after a big score with his romantic counterpart, be another strong-selling work of cinema of a flop? Either way, he’s not going to let it get to him this time. Will Smith’s Focus will premiere February 27 this year.
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