Special Interview Will Smith
Will Smith plays a grieving father who has to find a way to reconnect with the world after his devastating loss in David Frankel’s star-studded “Collateral Beauty.” (The drama also stars a who’s who of Academy Award winners and nominees including Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet and Edward Norton.) His character tries to make sense of his loss by writing letters—not to people, but to things—Love, Time and Death. And then, unexpectedly, he gets responses, which makes him see the world
in a new light.
What drew you to playing Howard?
I loved that this was a guy who had the world on a string. Everything was perfect. He had it. He had life figured out then suffered a loss and had to make his way back to even believing there was a possibility to have joy again so I really loved that journey. It was really close to me. Howard thinks about life a lot of the ways I think about life and he had to move from thinking he could solve all the issues of life with his mind to accepting that there is a certain amount of bleeding that you have to do to be able to purge and cleanse yourself to be able to experience joy. The pain and joy and growth are all inexorably bound together.
What do you mean by depth and power?
For example, in my mind I decided that Howard had moved to Buddhism. When the movie starts he’s trying Buddhism. There is a shot that goes across the teaching of Buddha when he is writing the letters and there is a thing the Buddhist monks do, the mandalas for twelve or fourteen hours a sad they make these beautiful sand mandalas and they work and slave all day and they stand up, look at it for sixty seconds and wipe it away, this beautiful piece of art and they just destroy it for the practice of impermanence. That was the idea I was working on with the dominoes. He has these domino mazes and tips them and turns and doesn’t even watch it fall as the practice of impermanence and letting things go so I am forever changed from working on “Collateral Beauty.”
Which of the elements—Time, Love or Death—would be the most difficult or most painful to deal with?
Nothing tortures me more than love. There is nothing in life that I experience more pain around than love. Even in dealing with my father’s passing, what comes back to me and how I react to that is “Jada, you're not loving me enough!” It’s like, “Listen, if we are going to die, we need to spend more time together.” It’s the craving for love for me is far beyond the loss of death and beyond the punishment of time.
You’ve done some bad boy roles. Are you transitioning to more emotional roles now?
I’m having more life experiences. They enable me to connect to different, more complex, deeper human emotions. As an artist, I am my tool and my life experience is my well so as I have more life experiences. I want to be able to courageously go forward to find those new things and deliver those new ideas.
Howard faces tragedy but his life changes after meeting three people. Can you think of any life-changing moment in your life?
I’ve had huge life-changing moments, again, all centered on love. I’m a serious hopeless romantic. I think the greatest experience of love I’ve ever had was when my daughter was born. I remember when Willow was born I sat down with Jada and just looking at the two of them I was just full as I ever have been. That was the maximum amount of love I’ve ever experiences in my life. It was the safest and purest and happiest that I’ve ever been in my life and I think, subconsciously, I chase that (feeling) every day of my life.
What is the collateral beauty that Howard finally finds?
Howard was trying to solve his problems with his mind. He thought he could think his way through this problem and what he realized is that he had to bleed, suffer and mourn. He had to let it go and when he finally had the opportunity to just release and let it all go, the collateral beauty was the joy that he was ultimately seeking in the first place.
There is a wonderful quote from Khalil Gibran that I love that says, “Pain is the knife that hollows us out so that we can hold more joy.” I thought that’s such an interesting idea that you suffer that pain and you are torn open for the purpose of being able to hold more light and joy and positivity. I think that is the collateral beauty of the type of suffering that Howard experienced in this film.
The Will Smith workout
On the aftermath of playing his role in Collateral Beauty the practice of Meditation and Yoga are almost mandatory in our workout suggestion.
But the amazingly fit Will Smith has off course his physical exercise cut out for him. With a personal trainer and specific workouts for very demanding roles, transforming his body to play the part is a constant challenge. Performing Muhammad Ali (2001) was one of the roles that demanded a muscle mass increase. For I, Robot the actor had to run 6 days per week, lift weights 5 days per week and box twice a week to get leaner and reduce body fat.
When not preparing for specific roles his regular exercise routine includes sets of exercise repetitions and machines you can also include in your circuit.