December 13, 2016
'Collateral Beauty' Stars Will Smith And Naomie Harris On The Beauty Of Death

Collateral Beauty isn't the most uplifting offering in theaters this Christmas, telling the story of a man, played by Will Smith, who loses himself when his daughter passes away. Collateral Beauty deals with death, which as the film's stars remind us, is also a part of life, and it also deals with grief following the loss of a loved one, but as dismal as that may seem, there's a theme of hopefulness in the movie that transcends the seemingly dark experience of dealing with loss. As Collateral Beauty nears its theatrical premiere, stars Will Smith and Naomie Harris share why this is the perfect holiday story.

Collateral Beauty Stars Share The "Beautiful" Message In Death And Grief

Admittedly, Collateral Beauty deals with a sad topic, but as Naomi Harris tells The Hollywood Reporter, death is a part of life and, for that reason, it should be embraced as something magnificent. Harris adds that our mortality teaches us to cherish the time we have in this life and Naomie says that, in itself, is something beautiful.

Helen Mirren was also present for the interview and she commented that people tend to forget, purposely in many cases, that we all must one day die. The Collateral Beauty star adds that death is no different than any other aspect of life, from "birth, love, success, sex and catching the bus," so there really is no way to avoid it.

On a more positive note, Ms. Mirren adds that death isn't necessarily the end.

"When you're grieving, it's really easy to withdraw from the world," says the Collateral Beauty actress. "I hope this movie shows that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day, hopefully, you can reconnect."

Mirren adds that if the Collateral Beauty premise were to really happen, she would choose to write just one letter and that one she would send to love. Helen says she's all too familiar with death and time, but love is more mysterious to her. She says love is intangible and one only knows it when he or she feels it. She adds that she would like to learn how to experience love for the longest moment because the Collateral Beauty star feels that's what life is really about.

Will Smith Shares His Deeply Personal Experience With The Collateral Beauty Themes

As Entertainment Weekly shares, Will Smith's Collateral Beauty character is a successful New York ad man, whose life takes a dark turn when he loses his daughter. Attempting to hide from life, Smith's character withdraws from society and only ventures out to send letters off to three entities: love, time, and death. While he doesn't expect answers, the character does in fact get some unusual responses, challenging him to seek out the connections interwoven throughout life and death. This, in turn, leads the Collateral Beauty character to discover beauty and meaning in unexpected places.

For Will Smith, the themes of Collateral Beauty were especially poignant because the film was shot just at the same time that his father was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

"I got the screenplay right when my father was diagnosed… I'm doing all of this research about a guy who experiences death at the time my father was given six weeks [to live]," Smith said, explaining why preparing for his role was a deeply personal event. "It turned out to be such an amazing thing to have to work through and go through all of this."

Will's dad, Willard Carroll Smith, Jr., lived four months longer than doctors had predicted, so the Collateral Beauty actor shares his gratitude for the extra time he had with his dad. Will says the extra time made him appreciate his father even more and he shared every possible moment with the elder Smith, making the most of every extra minute.

"When art and life comes together in that way and when you create something that could potentially help people get through difficult times, it's fantastic," Smith said. "I hope you all see it, and I hope you love it, and anybody who needs it, I hope it really is able to do for you what it has for my father and I."

Collateral Beauty hits theaters on December 16.

[Featured Image by Warner Bros.]