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Hitch - Will Smith Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Do women want to be swept off their feet?
A.
Absolutely, love is the ultimate theme, and it’s not just women it’s men. I think it’s the more natural, the highest desire to which we all aspire – we all want to find that person that’s going to love us no matter how our feet smell, no matter how angry we get, no matter the things we say that we don’t mean.

Q. Were you a smoothy when a teenager?
A.
Goofy was the word that was used most often by my sisters, because I’ve been this tall from the time I was 12-years-old and half the weight that I am now, then as I started to fill out I started to gain more confidence but it was a difficult time growing up with women because I was hurt young!
I was about 10-years-old and Stacey Brooks promised me the last dance at Sean Haw’s birthday party and I was prepared I was there I was ready and I turned around and she’s on the floor with David Brandon – and I’ve been scarred from that moment – and I’m getting over it, and I think I’m going to be ok!

Q. Do you have any allergies like the one suffered by your character in the film?
A.
Yes, and it’s really weird cause Stacey Brooks was that girl when I was growing up, so all the bad stuff that happened – happened around Stacey Brooks. I actually had an experience where things were heating up as much as they can when you’re 11 where I thought she was starting to like me and I got stung by a bee – that allergic reaction in the movie is actually how I look when I get stung, so Stacey actually saw me like that.
Whereas in the movie it was endearing, when you’re 11 it freaks the girls out – when they see you look like that they want you to get the hell away from them basically. So that didn’t work out either.

Q. How do you square it with Jada when you come home after shooting romantic scenes?
A.
That’s the importance of having someone who understands what you do in the biz, and because she’s done love scenes she understands it’s not what it looks like in the film. Even if you get a really passionate love scene, the director’s saying “Alright Will move your leg, put your leg over her thigh” and you’re like ‘dog, seriously, I know how to do this – let me do my thing!’
So it’s like 50 people sitting around, the grip is eating a hotdog – it’s not what it looks like and she understands that.
And the fact that everything with us is 100% pure honesty, the thing that would make someone jealous or uncomfortable in a relationship is uncertainty – and we remove all the uncertainty.

Q. Kevin James – what made you choose him for Hitch?
A.
Kevin – we have a mutual friend who introduced us when Hitch was coming up and I think his show is hilarious, he reminds me of Jackie Gleeson – he’s a big guy but he has a lot of control over his body and he’s really smooth and he can move. Working with him is a lot like Martin Lawrence – they just wear they’re hearts on their sleeves, you just see it – it’s all right there, there’s nothing hidden and it’s a really powerful comedic tool when people can just see through you in that way and I’m predicting that he’s going to be a really huge movie star. He’s a genius.

Q. How was the man on man kiss?
A.
That was interesting – we were shooting in New York and nobody knows what the movie is – it was a year ago. So we’re shooting in New York and we’re doing the scene and 250 New Yorkers are standing round and this black guy walks up and he looks like he might have been homeless and he’s watching the scene. Then he sees Kevin leaning in for the kiss and he screams, “Brother, no! No, no Will, no man! Don’t do that Will. What the hell are you doing brother?”
So we had security calm him down and explain to him that it was a movie and he was a little more ok with it. But with comedy you can get away with anything and I’m comedically brave, so I was very comfortable.

Q. Eva Mendes – how did she take your description of her ‘she’s a lot of woman’?
A. Y
eah, well ‘a lot of woman’ in the sense of her range. You know I always say that Jada’s a lot of woman and Eva fits into that category also – from the White House to the ghetto, you know she can put on a gown and go meet the President and First Lady and then you can go change in the car and go to a retro Public Enemy concert and she fits in both places – so that idea of a lot of woman in that sense.

Q. And how far can Eva go in Hollywood?
A.
In Hollywood I think with that kind of range there’s no telling. She’s in a comedy doing scenes with me and Kevin James and holding her own and she was in Training Day with Denzel so I think that wherever she decides she wants to go she can do it – so I’m confident that she’s going to make a huge charge over the next couple of years.

Q. Do you believe that Hitch can save any guy?
A
. I think that everybody has a quality that is loveable and it’s about finding that quality and illuminating that quality – so I would say yes. The idea in the movie that any guy has a shot at any woman and I think that that’s very real and I believe that.

Q. You and Jada have a very strong marriage – could a date doctor have improved the wooing stage though?
A.
Probably not with Jada – it was one of those things where everything really went perfectly, not perfectly in the sense that it was smooth and it was lovely – everything that went wrong, went perfectly wrong!
During the beginning of our relationship everything that needed to go wrong went wrong very quickly, very early. We learned who we were, we learned who we wanted to be and we decided on a path to get there.
Normally, in the beginning of relationships, it’s all the flowers and the butterflies – we didn’t have that. You know I was coming out of a divorce and she was coming out of a bad relationship and there was just no time for bullshit and it was like blatant, hard, cold honesty and that’s the basis of our relationship – just harsh honesty.
And there was nothing that could have happened any better or any worse for us in the beginning. Everything was a dating disaster in the beginning – like on our second date I think I’d just gotten out of my divorce and we go on up to a restaurant and the guy opens the door and goes 'Ah Mr Smith and Mrs Smith, good to see you', but he was thinking she was my ex.
And she was like “I don’t want to eat here!” And that was it, that was our second date about 16 minutes, just things like that constantly happening and it was a very tough time for us – a series of dating disasters. I found out who the boss was – who wears the pants. Women are the animating factor for masculinity, I think Carl Yunge said that.

Q. What are the best and worst dating tips you’ve received/given?
A.
I guess the best thing that anybody told me and it’s actually part of the theme to the movie is: you don’t want to take a woman somewhere you are not familiar with, right. Goes some place where everybody knows you.
If it’s a restaurant – go to a restaurant you’ve been to a thousand times, you’ve tried everything on the menu – so you look competent.
You don’t want to be at the sushi restaurant and it’s your first time having sushi saying to the waiter “Yeah, er, what, er, what is, what’s the, what is the tataki? What the tataki is?”
You don’t want to be that, you want to be able to order without the menu and you want to be able to talk about it and make suggestions to her and all that, so competence is really important. And I guess the worse advice that I got is from a friend of mine his name’s Charlie Mack – he’s like my ghetto co-ordinator.
Charlie Mack is a friend of mine back in Philly and he said to me “No, no, no, no, no, what you got to understand man, women, women want to do, that, that, you know, can do anything – women want to do the to do, that can do anything.
"So what you want to do is you want to be able to make them laugh, you wanna make them laugh, you wanna make them laugh and then they need to see you like knock somebody the fuck out. So generally on my first dates that’s what I do – you know, I’ll go and the whole night is funny, funny, funny, funny, then I’ll go outside and just knock somebody the fuck out. Cause they need to feel safe, women need to feel safe, if they with you they need to feel safe when they with you!"

Q. Have you put this into practice?
A.
The thing is it really works for him, he’s about 6” or 8” taller than me and he’s a really big guy and it’s the worst most horrible advice I’ve ever heard – but women, when they see him knock somebody out they feel really safe, “Oh Charlie.” What do you mean “Oh Charlie”? He started that fight!

Q. And what advice will you pass on to your son in 15 years time?
A.
Not 15 years time, my son’s 12 right now - so like now we’re talking! The thing that is most difficult during that time is understanding. So I keep telling him you can’t fall in love with every girl, you have to have one girl that is just your friend. Because if you have one girl that’s your friend she’ll keep you in the ball park, she’ll say ‘listen, no, she doesn’t like you, she likes such and such and if you mess with her then she’s going to hurt you because she really likes the football player.’
Or ‘this girl, we were talking in the bathroom and she really likes you. It’s like you’ve gotta have one female friend that gives you the inside information. I had two sisters growing up and I had a best female friend and almost all of my meetings when I was younger were brokered – it’s like a broker.
I guess that’s the advice that you need a broker, a female that’s going to meet the girl and go ‘no she’s a jerk’ or somebody that’s going to give you that inside information.
I’m trying to get him to do it, but every girl that he starts talking to he’s “I’m in love with her now dad.” Dude you’re blowing it!

Q. Did you provide any help with Kevin James' dance steps?
A.
Kevin James created all of his own dance moves - I will not take responsibility for any of those. But like I was saying, he has a real Jackie Gleeson kinda thing. I think we’re going to do a DVD – he did probably 10 other dances he had a whole Michael Jackson section that he did where he was adjusting the moves: he did a thing called the ‘slow Thriller’, he’s like saying ‘but it’s the ‘slow Thriller’ anybody can do the fast Thriller, but I do the sloooow Thriller’ and he has a whole Michael Jackson section that hopefully we’ll get to put a bunch of that on the DVD.

Q. Did Stacey Brooks ever get back in touch?
A.
Stacey Brooks is my longest friend, we still talk to each other two or three times a year and our kids play and all that stuff, so I’ve gotten over it.

Q. You have a wife now but how did you pick up girls?
A.
Well let me show you! [picks up female journalist in his arms]. I did something like that.
You know I almost exclusively have someone else make the initial introductions for me. One of my sisters or one of my female friends, because again I was hurt early so I was a little nervous about that, so I’d always do a little research before I stepped in and had my feelings hurt.

Q. Were you a tough guy or were you romantic?
A.
I definitely wasn’t a tough guy back then, I just learned how to fight a couple of years ago when I did Ali – so I can fight now – I could drop you so fast!
No it’s always been comedy with me. Comedy actually works better than like muscles and cars and stuff like that. Cause comedy is kinda sneaky. You know a woman wakes up and realises ‘God, I really like him!’ one day – just from comedy, so it’s always been jokes. There’s certain times when the laughter’s not good – that’s for certain, you want to hold back the knock-knock jokes at certain points. But I’ve gotten laughs at a couple of inopportune moments also.

Q. Where did you first lay eyes on Jada and think that’s the lady for me and what was your chat up line to her?
A.
Well in Hollywood young actors will see people for months or years before you actually get to meet them and she was on a TV show called A Different World, so I saw her the first day she came on A Different World and I was like ‘wow she’s really spicy and fiery’, but it might have been two and a half years before I actually met her and then another year or so after before we got together. What was my chat up line – we don’t say that in the States, I must start saying that.
I remember what I said to her when I told her that I wanted us to actually be together. We’d seen one another a couple of times – we’d been on like one or two dates and then we hadn’t seen one another for a year.
And then I called her, and I’d just gotten divorced, and I said “Hey what’s up Jada, this is Will.” And she said “Will who?” and I said “Will Smith” and she said “Oh hey, how you doing?”
And it had just hit the press about my divorce and all that stuff and I said “Hey look are you seeing any body right now?” And she was like “Er, no.” and I said “Alright cool. You’re seeing me!” And she was like “Er, ok.” And I said “Look I’m on the set, I’ve gotta go, alright!”
And that was February 19, ten years ago, and we celebrated that a couple of days ago as our 10 year anniversary! So that’s a chat up line for you!

Q. Denzel Washington once advised you not to kiss men – why did you change your mind?
A.
With comedy you can get away with anything – in comedy it doesn’t even matter. There was a scene in Old School where Will Ferrell was in the pool and Seann William Scott is giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation and he wakes up and he’s tongue kissing and that is real comedic commitment – their tongues touched – and it’s like you can get away with anything for comedy.
And if was at that point in my career for 6 Degrees of Separation I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to handle it in a dramatic situation – so I just think I’m more mature as an actor and I would never take a role that I wasn’t willing to do what it called for in the script.

Q. Do you ever get tired of playing nice guys? Could you take on a darker role?
A.
Yeah man, I’m tired of that shit! Why does everybody expect that shit from me man? I just want to knock somebody out man! You know that’s the beauty of acting, it’s a director’s medium so when directed properly any actor can sell anything.
So generally the bad guy roles don’t really speak to me, but I’m sure at some point something will come up.
I saw The Woodsman and I just loved the bravery of that role – I mean I’m trying to think of any role that I’ve ever seen that was more brave than The Woodsman, and really The Woodsman is the only time that I’ve seen something that was at that level of discomfort for the audience to watch.
I would have really enjoyed playing that, I feel like I would have been able to make it really scary ‘if Will is thinking and feeling those kinds of things’ I thought that would be something that would be powerful – but I do think I’m good enough an actor to do it – I might not be but I think I am!

Q. Who were your comic idols?
A.
Eddie Murphy was first, I guess. I was 12, 13, 14 years old when Eddie Murphy was coming up and the curse words, listening to the radio, listening to the records in the basement so your parents don’t know that you’re listening to the profanity.
Eddie Murphy was the first person that I imitated but since then I actually discovered Richard Pryor after Eddie Murphy, I loved the transitions that Tom Hanks has made, I loved the type of comedy Gerry Seinfeld – I can’t do that type of comedy where he can stand there and just say the line and people laugh. I always say like I have to do something to be able to get the laughs.
I really admire the ability to just be able to deliver the line and make it funny. Hugh Grant I just love his style, the way that he can be really sensitive and be funny, because generally sensitivity is not funny – abrasiveness tends to be more funny.

Q. Do you have a career path you insist on following, especially now that you have gone into producing as well?
A.
I think there’s a distinct perspective that I have for a direction for my career. The work that we did on Hitch is really work that we’ve been doing for years on other films – it’s just the first time it’s from our company, we found the script and we developed it from scratch so for me the importance of it is to be able to see the ideas that we have come to light.
As an actor, you’ve always working for someone else - it's someone else’s vision that you're helping them to realise, so going into producing is an opportunity to be able to see vision come into fruition.
Fruition - you like that? Every once in a while I throw in a big word – yeah fruition!

Q. Are you good at doing anything unusual?
A.
I’m really good at catching grapes, like you can go as far away as you want and throw a grape and I’ll catch it in my mouth!

Q. Do you think it has become increasingly difficult for blokes to chat women up?
A.
I think that women have more choices – because every man will sleep with every woman – no really. If you were single there’s almost no woman that you don’t find something attractive about.

Q. What about Margaret Thatcher?
A.
She’s kinda sexy and strong though! I guess for women it’s more difficult because there are so many guys that are willing to approach - so it’s more difficult for a man dealing with that – I would say it’s more difficult based on certain places.
It’s like the club is played out so it’s more difficult today in a club than it’s ever been, but it’s much less difficult at Starbucks now, in the supermarket now – because I think we’re coming out of the wave of women into the workplace, the real feminist, I mean in America for sure into where the dream now is the husband and the wife with 2.4 kids in the house with the white picket fence – I think that is starting to be the dream again – so it’s a little less difficult I think.

Q. Do you think you will ever do a romantic role which places you with a white female co-star?
A.
That was and still is a big issue in the States for making these types of films - there’s sort of an accepted myth that if you have two black actors, a male and a female in the lead of a romantic comedy that people around the world don’t want to see it.
So we spend 50-something million dollars making this movie and for the Studio they think it’s tough on their investment.
So the idea of a black actor and a white actress comes up – but now wow, ‘now that’s a problem in the United States’, so that’ll work around the world, but it’s a problem in the US – so its like this weird catch 22 that is a struggle and it’s something that we deal with every time the idea for a film comes up.
The conversation came up for I, Robot for a romantic interest with myself and Bridget Moynahan but Alex Proyas just as a director there was no romantic interest in the book so he didn’t want it in the film – but it was definitely an issue for the Studio.
So it’s one of those weird problems – we’ll keep chipping away at it.

Q. What’s the most romantic thing anyone’s ever done for you?
A.
Jada’s always doing romantic things generally when I come home after a long trip, she does really interesting things, come on you’re being dirty – she likes to create a romantic environment and she had a really planned out kind of skit thing that she did for me… with she and I and I think that’s all I’m at liberty to discuss – but it was really romantic…I’ve been away for 4 weeks this time so I’m looking forward to a short film!

Q. Do you have an open marriage?
A.
Well fidelity in a marriage is huge – you’ve got to have that or you’ve got nothing; 100% unadulterated honesty is the only way that you can ever truly be successful, but don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers, and don’t believe everything that you right in the newspapers!

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