Men In Black III hits theaters tomorrow, and director Barry Sonnenfeld could not be more thrilled…with how crazy successful he helped Will Smith become. “I’m so excited that I get to bring Will back to the big screen after four years of not being in the theaters,” Sonnenfeld gushed at the film’s premiere, reminiscing about the young actor he hired for the first MIB back in 1997. “In fact, we cast him from Fresh Prince. He hadn’t been in Independence Day or anything.” Joked Sonnenfeld, “I think Will Smith pretty much owes me his career.” The Hancock actor might not agree with the “entire career” part, but Smith definitely recognizes the films’ influence on his mega-stardom. “He hooked me up pretty good,” Will admitted. “This franchise is probably hands down the biggest franchaise of my career.” Laughs Smith, “I owe him a little bit. I’ll give him his props.”
Just a little bit, Will? Because after revisiting some of your early parts, we understand it if you constantly had Barry Sonnenfeld in a teary bear hug. Yes, we know Will’s break-out TV role was in Fresh Prince, but when it came to Smith’s film career, those early roles were a…lot less memorable roles. Homeless wheelchair-bound runway, anyone? Gay conman? Check them out for yourself, and ponder where Big Willie’s career would be if he had never put on that black suit to begin with:
Made In America (1993): Of course there’s nothing wrong with playing a wacky boyfriend named “Tea Cake” in a sperm donation comedy. It just does not an international megastar make.
Six Degrees Of Separation (1993): Neither does playing a charismatic con artist who seduces Heather Graham‘s boyfriend…and a host of other young uppercrusty gentleman. May will live in that world someday soon!
Where The Day Takes You (1992): Will Smith’s first feature film role! He plays a physically disabled homeless teen named Manny who gets beaten mercilessly to establish a plot point! Yeah, we’d say he’s come a long. Big ups to Barry, ya’ll!