Interview: Will Smith
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Will Smith needs no introduction – from his days as the Fresh Prince to I am Legend, The Pursuit of Happyness, Hancock and Men In Black via Oscar and Golden Globe nominations (not to mention a few Grammy wins), he hasn’t been far from our television and cinema screens for the last three decades. Now he’s starring in Focus, a sexy new con artist rom-com from the directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love, alongside The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie (you can read our interview with her here.) Ahead of its UK release on the 27th February I caught up with Will to talk about Focus, his electrifying on-screen chemistry with co-star Robbie, being drawn to playing characters with “dubious morals”, and about his recent recording sessions with Kanye West. It was the possibility of working with the director/writer combo of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra that sparked Will’s initial interest and subsequent involvement in the film. He says: “I love the work of John and Glenn; they did Crazy, Stupid, Love and I love that film, and when I read Focus it was so interesting because it’s so many different kinds of movies. They completely ignore genre, so it’s a heist film but then there will be bizarre comedy for a while and then it’s really serious and it’s great action and then there’s a wonderful love story at the centre of the film. I just love how many different styles and flavours that they would demand of the actors.” Making the film was hugely fun (“it’s like this real great family”) and this was partially created by the directors’ openness with improv: “they create a set where everyone’s involved, so, they get what they want and you’re rolling and they’ll let anyone yell out a line,” says Will. “If it’s funny they’ll be like “yeah, yeah Margot say that.” It was a little awkward for me in the love scene but other than that… “Will, Will, Will put your leg up.” Like man, I have done this before!” For Will, Focus had a “little bit of a different tonal quality.” As he says, “It’s not straightforward funny, it’s like it’s dead serious and then they [the directors] manage to figure out how the situation makes it funny. “I’m from the American sit-com school so for me you don’t not have to make people guess whether or not it’s funny, you go really hard at it.” His character, Nicky, the film’s successful con-man protagonist, has questionable morals - a character trait that Will has often been drawn to in his roles: “I guess I like the concept of dubious morals, I always like to play in that area… those are the types of roles that I’m pushing more towards. “With the character in Focus, his issue is he is committed to lying. Morally he’s made a decision that, being a liar is the only way that he can survive.”
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