CATEGORIES Movie News
Perhaps the biggest star of the last 20 years, the musician-turned-actor has seemingly been in one commercial success after another, from his start on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" to "Men in Black" to "Hitch." This Friday, however, Smith takes an uncharacteristically minor role in the Colin Farrell-starring "Winter's Tale."
Whether or not you've had a chance to see Smith of late, there's still much to know about the multi-talented star. From his early achievements as a musician to his unbelievable Rubik's Cube skills, here are 17 things you probably don't know about Will Smith.
1. Prior to acting, Smith was a successful musician, known as The Fresh Prince, and the MC in the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
2. Beginning with "Men in Black II" (2002) and ending with "Hancock" (2008), Smith starred in eight consecutive $100M+ grossing movies, an incredible stretch and a record.
3. The actor and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, founded a private elementary school in Calabasas, California (a city on the outskirts of Los Angeles), named the New Village Leadership Academy. No doubt he's teaching them a few tricks of his own!
4. It's been reported that Smith was offered a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These reports are untrue and the musician-turned-actor has acknowledged he had no intention of going to college due to his blossoming music career. (Who can blame him?)
5. In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince won the first ever Grammy award in the Rap category.
6. He was raised in a Baptist household and remains a Christian, but acknowledges he is a student of all religions and, accordingly, respects all people's beliefs. He has denied being a member of the Church of Scientology, but has praised the organization and called it revolutionary.
7. Smith has been nominated for two Best Actor Oscars, for "Ali" (2001) and "The Pursuit of Happyness" (2006), but he has yet to take home the prize.
8. Before his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor was married to Sheree Fletcher for three years in the early '90s. They had one child together, Trey.
9. Due to his free-spending ways, Smith nearly went bankrupt in his early twenties. Luckily, the hit tv series "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" soon got off the ground, and the rest is history.
10. In 2007, "Newsweek" called him the most powerful actor in Hollywood.
11. In both "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and "The Pursuit of Happyness," Smith solves a Rubik's Cube. This is a real talent of his, and he's even done it on live television in under a minute. I'm in awe.
12. The actor turned down the role of Neo in "The Matrix." Instead, he took the lead role in "Wild Wild West" (1999), the first commercial disappointment of Smith's career and one of the actor's few regrets.
13. Smith met his future wife, Jada Pinkett, when she auditioned for the role of his girlfriend on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Actress Nia Long ("The Best Man"), won the part opposite Smith.
14. The actor's first major film role was in the drama "Six Degrees of Separation" (1993). He followed it up with the hit blockbuster "Bad Boys" (1995) opposite Martin Lawrence. "Bad Boys" was also Michael Bay's directorial feature debut.
15. President Barack Obama has stated that he would like Smith to play him if there were ever a film about his life. President Obama has also acknowledged that the two have, in fact, discussed the possibility.
16. He has been his full height (6' 2") since he was 13 years old.
17. One of his sons, Jaden Smith, played his onscreen son in the 2006 drama "The Pursuit of Happyness." The two paired up again for 2013's "After Earth."
[Sources: Wikipedia, IMDb]