Will Smith says that he nearly turned down the iconic role of Agent J in 1997â€™s Men in Black. Speaking with Kevin Hart for a recent episode of Hart to Heart, the actor explained that Steven Spielberg, who executive produced the film, sent for a helicopter to pick Smith up and bring him to him, so they could discuss the decision. Smith began by recalling not wanting to do another alien film following 1996â€™s Independence Day. His former manager, James Lassiter, was adamant about Men in Black, however.
â€œIn the heyday, the 10 movies I made at the top of my career, [James] was choosing the films,â€ Smith said. â€œHe just had an eye. I didnâ€™t want to make Pursuit of Happyness. I didnâ€™t want to make â€˜Ali.â€™ And [James] picked Men in Black. I kind of understood Men in Black a little bit but I didnâ€™t want to make â€˜Men in Black.â€™ That was the next year after Independence Day. So I didnâ€™t want to make two alien movies back to back.â€
Will Smith In â€œMen In Blackâ€
â€œSteven Spielberg sent a helicopter for me to talk to me,â€ Smith continued. â€œI was in New York. It landed at his house. And, like, he had me at hello. And it was the first time I ever had lemonade with carbonated water. You canâ€™t say no to that.â€ â€œHe said the coldest shit,â€ Smith added. â€œHe said, â€˜Tell me why you donâ€™t want to make my movieâ€¦â€™ And he was the producer. And he put the ellipsis at the end, it was the dot, dot, dot. If he had continued, he would have said, â€˜Joker, you know I made Jaws, right? You know I made E.T.â€˜â€
Smith ended up taking the role in Men In Black and it went on to become one of the most iconic in a career of iconic performances. Smith and his co-star, Tommy Lee Jones, later reprised their roles to star in two more sequels in the franchise.