A helicopter ride convinced Will Smith to do ‘Men in Black’

Written by on August 3, 2023

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Will Smith is reflecting on his “Men in Black” experience. In a recent episode of Kevin Hart’s “Hart to Heart” series, Smith looks back on what made him say yes to starring in the popular sci-fi franchise that first hit theaters over 25 years ago.

Premiere Of 20th Century Fox's "Spies In Disguise" - Arrivals
Will Smith attends the Premiere of 20th Century Fox’s “Spies In Disguise” at El Capitan Theatre on Dec. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

In an appearance on Hart’s Peacock show, Smith spoke to how film producer James Lassiter was the “arbiter of taste” for him, helping to convince Smith to star in some of the biggest roles early in his career, per Entertainment Weekly. One of the roles was Agent J in “Men In Black” (1997).

Smith recalled how Lassiter picked the sci-fi flick, saying, “I kinda understood ‘Men in Black’ like a little bit, but I didn’t want to make ‘Men in Black’ — that was the next year after ‘Independence Day.’ So I didn’t want to make two alien movies back to back.”

What finally convinced Smith to do the film? Steven Speilberg and a helicopter. “Steven Spielberg sent a helicopter for me,” Smith told Hart. “To talk. It landed at his house. And he had me at ‘Hello.’”

Over “lemonade with carbonated water,” Smith recalled Speilberg saying “the coldest s—” to him. Check out the clip below:

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In the episode, Smith even credits Lassiter for other huge roles in his career, including “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He told Hart, “He just had an eye. I didn’t want to make “The Pursuit of Happyness,” I didn’t want to make “Ali.” Smith would go on to earn Oscar nominations for his roles in both films.

The season finale of “Hart to Heart” streams Aug. 3 on Peacock.

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