In the first part of my interview with Will Smith, the world's biggest movie star talked about how Seven Pounds, which drops this Christmas season, shook him to his core and helped him finally get a grasp on his celebrity by making him realize that impacting lives and making a difference in this world are much more important to him than the business of making movies.
Today, that interview continues as Smith discusses how his character in Seven Pounds -- Ben Thomas, an IRS agent on a mission to change strangers' lives -- scared his family (well, kind of), why he was afraid to make out with co-star Rosario Dawson [I still don't get it, but I humored him], and the next chapter of the I Am Legend franchise. [You just knew they wouldn't skip a sequel after all the cash that was made, even after killing Smith off in the last one.]
Cole Haddon: Ben Thomas is probably your most emotionally complex character to date, and a lot more intense than the roles you usually tackle. Did you bring him home with you at the end of the day?
Will Smith: Yeah. It's crazy. When you start to program a character, you don't realize that when it's sinking in ... it's such a slow process. You know, you're working on it every day but you don't realize the adjustment. I remember one night we were sitting at dinner and [my son] Jaden [Smith] is Mr. Reality. He keeps me really informed about what's going on in the house, and he tells me the truth all the time. So we're sitting at dinner -- you know family dinner is a big thing in our house -- and it's really quiet. So I lean over to Jaden. He's my man, [so] I say, "Hey Jaden." I was like, "Why is it so quiet?" He said [Smith leans forward here, mimicking his son], "Cause you look crazy!"
CH: Rosario Dawson said that you were shy about your love scenes together, and that you actually kept pushing them off during the course of production. She's still laughing about it today. Is this true, or is she just having a little fun?
WS: For me, my grandmother [and my mother] was really firm ... about how men are supposed to treat women. [When] I started driving -- you know, when you start driving, you're excited. I'd run down and go hop in the car and start it, and [be like] I'm ready, and my grandmother would just stand outside. And she would just stand ... "Oh, sorry grandma." I'd get out, and run around, and open the door, you know, so she could get in, and then close the door. So, for me, my worst nightmare is for an actress to come on my set and feel like I'm taking this as an opportunity to get a little quickie feel. You know, some legal cheating going on. I just need, specifically, women to be comfortable around me. It just puts me in my defensive space, but it also hurts the acting if I'm in that space. You've got to find a comfortable space to feel free and your hand can brush up against her and all of that and it's not, "Oh, excuse me," you know?
CH: Is your wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, cool about that kind of stuff?
WS: Oh, Jada said, "Listen, I know you are uncomfortable, but you better not embarrass me." She was like, "When you do that love scene, you better show them what you're working with."
CH: She didn't come to the set that day?
WS: I asked her to come to the set, and she was like, "Are you stupid?"
CH: You brought up I Am Legend. Now, there's been a lot of talk about you possibly doing a prequel or maybe even a sequel to that film. Could you tell me what it will be, and what excites you about returning to your character, Robert Neville?
WS: We have a fantastic prequel idea. We're still trying to work through a couple of bumps in the story, but the idea is ... it's essentially the fall of the last city, the last stand of Manhattan. And the movie would be about D.C. ... and then Manhattan would fall as the last city. There's a reason why we have to take a small band, and we have to get into D.C. So we have to make our way from New York to D.C., and then back to New York.
CH: Will Neville's dog be back, too?
WS: Yes, the dog will be a puppy.