There’s a part of me that wishes Will Smith never made Independence Day. No, it’s not like I don’t think he’s a very good action movie/blockbuster film actor, but it does leave me a little bitter because Will Smith happens to be a very talented actor period. It’s kind of like my theory on Robin Williams being a much better serious actor than comedian.
And it’s not like Will Smith is all blockbuster movies but I’m curious where his career would have gone had he not morphed into leading man, action role guy. Because earlier in his career Smith had some pretty cool serious roles that should not go unnoticed. And yeah, he had a couple of recent ones, but I think you get what I mean.
Here are (what I consider to be) Will Smith’s finest acting performances….
P.S. did you know Smith’s been in less than 25 movies?
Paul – Six Degrees of Separation
This I think is by far Smith’s best movie role. Honestly it’s not even close. If you haven’t seen this movie then you must. Smith plays a runaway conman who lures himself into the upper class world of Manhattan. He knows the lingo, the attitude, everything it takes to be part of high society. All learned through a gay man (he himself is gay) he took advantage of and eventually robbed. It’s almost shocking to realize it’s Will Smith playing this guy. Personally I thought the performance was Oscar worthy.
Bagger Vance – The Legend of Bagger Vance
This movie received tons of mixed reviews but I loved it. If it weren’t for Matt Damon’s absolutely atrocious golf swing this movie would have been way better. But let’s not forget that Robert Redford directed it. Smith had a great Southern accent in this film and his careless yet philosophic demeanor was exactly what the character called for. I thought he did an excellent job.
Chris Gardner – The Pursuit of Happyness
I remember when I first saw this movie I didn’t think it was as good as the hype. I still don’t. But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel what Smith does in this movie. It doesn’t mean you don’t cry with him when he’s sleeping in that subway bathroom. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel totally happy when you see him actually get the job in the end. It’s a long ways from Men in Black and Smith did a great job of playing homeless to hopeful Chris Gardner
Muhammed Ali – Ali
You gotta hand it to Smith for doing a dead on impression of Ali not to mention the physical shape he got in for this film. Real heavyweight fighters commented that Smith would easily last 6-8 rounds in a real fight against real contenders. That’s pretty impressive. Plus you got to see Smith’s sensitive crying side. Yay!
Manny-Where the Day Takes You
I doubt many of you know about this film but Smith plays a crippled homeless person, often successful at begging for money because of his handicap. In short this movie is about a gang of teenage runaways who must fend for themselves on the streets of L.A. This was made during The Fresh Prince of Bel Air so clearly people must not have realized it.