Will Smith highlights the actual reason he prefers to avoid films with themes of slavery.
The actor shared his personal thoughts on the matter during a candid chat with GQ Magazine.
The feature also touches on Apple’s Emancipation which has a striking budget of $120 million. Smith plays a slave named Peter who escapes from a Louisiana plantation after a nearly fatal whipping. Directed by Antoine Fuqua who also directed Equalizer, the film will center around Peter’s journey north through the Louisiana bayou. Eventually, he joins the Union Army and heads down South to “help free those he’d left behind,” writes Wesley Lowery.
Smith has always avoided films about slavery. In the feature he shares:
“I’ve always avoided making films about slavery. In the early part of my career…I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise.”
Will also touched on why he turned down the titular role in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Though this was the first time he considered playing a role that centered around slavery, he later declined. His reasoning: “I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance.”
To Smith, Emancipation is different from Django Unchained due to the meat of the storyline. On this he says, “This was one that was about love and the power of Black love. And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.”
As far as societal matters, Smith — who has memorably played police officer Mike Lowrey in the Bad Boys franchise — gave his views on the “defund the police” slogan. He has mixed feelings about the messaging, especially when compared to Black Live Matter.
“I would love if we would just say ‘Defund the bad police.’ It’s almost like I want, as Black Americans, for us to change our marketing for the new position we’re in,” Smith said. “This is a difficult area to discuss, but I feel like the simplicity of Black Lives Matter was perfect. Anybody who tries to debate Black Lives Matter looks ridiculous. So when I talk about the marketing of our ideas, Black Lives Matter was perfection.”
He went on to say, “Defund the police’ doesn’t get it done, no matter how good the ideas are… I’m not saying we shouldn’t defund the police. I’m saying, just don’t say that, because then people who would help you won’t.”
Read the entire GQ feature here.