Tuesday, April 2, 2013

When Your Britches Are Too Big For You: Will Smith

Let's take this from the top, shall we? 

When I was a young boy, I was an avid fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Easily attracted to the star power, comedic timing, and (no pun intended) fresh and interesting approach television was taking in letting Will Smith just be himself on a television show. Unfettered and full of comedic life, hip-hip soul and television energy that proved itself to me. 

That quickly brought him staring roles in films that helped shape my interest and mold some of my earliest instincts as an actor. Independence Day, Men In Black, Bad Boys; all great movies of the 90's, really stand-out productions that cast a shadow over others, letting people in Tinseltown know just where things were heading. And with that shadow cast, a light was also forged in those movies as they began to shed light on the possibilities of what was possible with the actors. 

The material was evolving, taking shape and reflected in the emerging culture of the 90's and the champions of that era. (I could write a whole piece about the former sentence and it's contained sentiment on just Bad Boys alone--believe me.)

You can ask my parents (especially my father), my sister, and my friends of the times: Will Smith was one of a select few I was mentally engorged with. Period. I (seriously did this for a while) even went trampsing around with a plastic badge and two brown leather belts tied together around my shoulders, back and under arms to try to simulate shoulder holsters--just like Smith in Bad Boys

This is a man who won the first Grammy ever introduced for Best Rap Performance. 1 of 4 Grammy's he's accumulated (4 for 4 wins with those noms). Here's the one who encapsulated Muhammad Ali and nearly won the Oscar for it. Which was before he received his second Best Leading Actor nomination for playing the homeless father Chris Gardner along side his real-life son Jaden in the true story tale In The Pursuit of Happiness. Here's the actor with some of the biggest hits of the 90's and 2000's.

2012 Shot of  the successful family 
He can even do this, and still be loved and adored by all

Including his son's successful transition into movies,  his wife Jada-Pinkett has a longtime history with the  craft and his daughter also dabbled in them as well as her musical career. With the only exception in his son Trey, f rom his first marriage to Sheree Zampino, who has  opted for a more secluded lifestyle. 

The Smith's are a Hollywood dynasty solidified in concreet and celluloid forever. 

So, when I say that my respect and love for him is there in droves--you will agree. It's been amazing to watch him age, grow, learn, impress and expand as an actor in this universe of ours. And I did as well. Expanding from acting, writing, directing and coaching into film literature, I have commanded a new respect and understand in myself for film, the process, the actors, the filmmakers (down the p.a.'s and all) and put all that understanding into the movies and films I watch today. 

    So, that being said: he's a cunt.

An extremely watchable and sensational cunt I'm still going to patronize the films of until the end, but, a cunt nonetheless. Period. 

You don't get to pass on a Tarantino film. Who the fuck do you think you are? (A Hollywood legend and megastar or something?) I remember reading his passing on it in the beginning before production began, coated in scheduling conflict labeling (which is the Hollywood secrecy/truth masking equivalent to divorcing with Irreconcilable Differences) and even then I wasn't surprised. It just doesn't fit his mold. 

 He's greedy, and he needs the whole screen, he takes up too much room. So does Dicaprio, but look what he did? Took the backseat, the juicy role of the supporting, fucked-in-the-head villain and got robbed for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. But just the same he just might have given, to date, the performance of his career (pared with 2005's The Aviator). 

Smith himself as of a few days ago went on to recently confess (spoiler ahead, not that he cared to guard against that): 
"Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead! I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’ "
Really? You mean to tell me that the poster with the character in the middle, the film with the character's name in it, the entire reason for the film's existence, what it is in general--is just not enough for you? Because you're not technically the lead role? Even though you can argue that he was indeed the lead alongside what many consider Waltz's Dr. King Shutlz a lead in it's own right. The film starts and ends with Django's character on the screen, bookending itself in his travels across the land. I don't know what more you'd want. 

How selfish a person can or cannot be is always brought to the surface in Hollywood and politics, and half the time, it's their undoing, often very publicly or rarely privately and quite. At least he had the chutzpah to come right out and say it. So, will I now make an attempt at hypocrisy and agree what's wrong with wanting what you want at his point in his career? Taking a stand and making no exceptions? 

No. I most certainly will not. 

Because when Quentin Tarantino comes to you with an offer--you fuckin' take it and say "Thank you sir."

End of story. 

But, we all know about the troubled casting along the way, mostly due to (actual and documented scheduling conflicts). Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Anthony Lapaglia, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kevin Costner, Johan Hill (who eventually found the time to get back in for a moment). Kurt Russell was the only one who simply just dropped the project altogether. Good thing he's not in dire need of a hit or anything. . . Okay. Which then gave way to the role entirely. And so on and so forth. 

It's too bad he decided that the role was 'big enough' for him. The difference is so marginal, there almost is no margin. But, I get what he's saying there, Dr. Shultz had more dialogue, more gusto in the script, and more commanding presence, stealing the focus of the movie onto him, and moving the character of Django behind him. The way the story works, the Shultz character is contrived that way, and is trapped that way, if you will.  

You can argue that the power Shultz has is all due to actor Christoph Waltz, and you'd be right. Tarantino allegedly wrote it specifically with him in mind. So there ya go. 

I especially like this little warning from a user online the day the story broke:
Be careful Will, don't be like Icarus. If you get too close to the sun your wings will melt.
Now I'll be the first to say I do not think that will ever happen. Ever. But, loosing out on roles of a lifetime like this one has got to sting. When prolific guys like Quentin come a'knockin at your door, and you turn them away like the witch in Beauty And The Beast, what the fuck does that say about you? I won't presume to understand Smith's mindset other than his grreedy desire to solely star in a Quentin Tarantino film. But I'll say that if Pacino, De Niro, Nicholson, Newman, Caine, Streep, Blanchette, Winslet (Even) Cruise and Pitt (and more) have taught us they can hop into supporting territory and make career roles out of the niche than so can fuckin' he. 

This is the guy who, well, do I even have to start listing off his resume? No, of course not. That's the beauty of this article: Tarantino offered an actor a role, free and clear, a damned good one (both the role and the actor) and the actor turned it down. Point blank. 

Think about that anger he channeled and brought to the surface to play Ali, and mixing that with just anything else he's done in the past twenty years, combined with Tarantino's words. . . Who wouldn't go flock to the theaters in droves to see Will Smith staring in Django? Smith has always had a way with words, muscles, his body used as an instrument. Give me the hardness of Ali, mixed with the survival focus/nervous/weirdness of I Am Legend and we might really get somewhere cool. Real cool. 

                                                                                        The Actual Screenplay itself by Tarantino.

Let's think about Tarantino's mindset on why Smith would have been the choice he made first for Django. Smith, the family friendly (for the most part), cultural icon, box office juggernaut, Hollywood legend. Uh, he's also a two-time Oscar nominee who happens to be black? 

Any questions? 

That description just slightly eschew to what Tarantino uses in his films (starting with Pitt, and just short of one-time use De Niro and every-picture-Jackson ). Can you imagine the press, the unexpectedness, the intrigue, the wet-appetites for an actor of the supreme caliber as Smith behind the wheel of the "staring" role in a Quentin Tarantino film? How awesome, how excited people and fans alike would be? The anticipation built on top of the usual fair of his films stacked by another, what? Fifty percent? Does that percentage even matter? Or add up? Who gives-a-shit. 

Like I said, I remember when the offer went out, and when he passed as well. Too bad. I was (evidently briefly) looking forward to it. 

I dunno, maybe I'm being too hard on the guy. But how can you call yourself an actor, a dedicated professional, and not have worked with all the best components of the industry that you can before the credits role?

(No 'Nanas for him) Munki disappointingly out.

No comments:

Post a Comment