Will Smith Revealed Why He Turned Down 'Men in Black' and Who Changed His Mind

From Bad Boys to I Am Legend, Will Smith has solidified his position as one of the most sought-after action stars in Hollywood. It would be hard to imagine his most memorable blockbusters with any other actor as the headliner.

But surprisingly, the star initially passed on one of his most iconic roles as Jay in Men in Black. In a recent video on his YouTube channel, Smith revealed why he wasn’t interested in playing the part and who talked him into changing his mind.

Will Smith made solid career moves early on

Smith began performing as a rap artist as one half of theGrammy Award-winning duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. From there, helaunched his acting career on the NBC sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, whichaired from 1990 to 1996.

As an entertainer, Smith possessed natural comedic timing. Butwhile working on the series, he also proved his dramatic acting chops when tacklingmore intense storylines. It is no surprise that he began to earn film roleseven before The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ended.

Before ‘Men in Black,’ Will Smith had already battled on-screenextraterrestrials

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Smith has created a series of Storytime videos inwhich he opens up to fans about turning points in his life and career. In theepisode titled, “Why I Turned Down The Matrix,” Smith also dished alittle-known fact that he had also rejected the gig in the 1997 blockbuster, Menin Black. Luckily for fans of the super-successful movie franchise, a certaincinema icon convinced him to reconsider. Here’s what Smith said about whathappened:

I had done Independence Day the year before. So, I was like, “I’m not doing another alien movie. I don’t want to be the alien movie guy.” So, I turned down Men in Black. And Steven Spielberg called me. He was producing. He said, “Why’re you turning down the movie?” I said, “You know, I just don’t want to be the Alien Guy.” He said, “Um, do me a favor. Don’t use your brain for this one. Use my brain.” He was so serious that I was like, “Alright. You did do Jaws.

Spielberg’s instincts were correct, as usual

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Aside from his 1975 groundbreaking horror film, Jaws, Spielberghas earned a reputation as a filmmaker with impeccable instincts. Before Menin Black, the film guru had brought fans such global hits as Raiders ofthe Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, The Color Purple,Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List, just to name a few.

When he urged Smith to take the role in Men in Black, which he executive produced, it turns out that Spielberg was on to something once again. The movieearned $598 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, and it holds a 92% score on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.

Adding to Smith’s bottom line, the artist also recorded thefilm’s Grammy Award-winning theme song, also titled “Men in Black.” What’smore, Smith and his co-star, Tommy Lee Jones, went on to star in two blockbustersequels. Fans can thank Spielberg for encouraging Smith to take a chance onanother alien movie.

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