Willard Carroll Smith Jr aka The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air aka Big Willy Styles aka Mr Box Office aka Will Smith: love him or hate him, you can’t deny he has talent (talent and a lot of aliases). But try as he might, Will Smith has never won an Oscar.
Why can’t the Most Bankable Man in Hollywood take home its top honour? Let’s get jiggy with the facts…
He makes blockbusters not Oscar-botherers
And who could blame him? There’s a reason Smith is known as Mr Box Office – he’s the only actor in history to have eight consecutive movies make over $100 million in the US and the only actor ever to have eight consecutive movies open at #1.
His career gross currently stands at around £4.4 billion – so why worry? Movies like ‘Independence Day’, ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Men In Black’ didn’t win any Oscars, but they made him a mega-star. It’s unlikely during his unsurpassed run at the box office that Will ever stopped to think, “You know what I really need? Acceptance from my peers.” That’s loser talk!
He doesn’t make great choices when it comes to drama
The movie that ended Smith’s bonkers blitz of the box office was ‘Seven Pounds’ – suitably titled, because it’s by far the most leaden movie he’s ever made. If you conveniently duck and weave ‘Ali’ out of the conversation (it’s a biopic, the story was already written), Will Smith’s attempts at serious drah-mah often end up being laughable – the scene in ‘Seven Pounds’ where Smith commits suicide by jellyfish generated sniggers, not sympathy. And hey, if you ever see Will Smith in genteel supernatural golfing drama ‘The Legend Of Bagger Vance’, be sure to let him know, because you are literally the first person to do so.
He doesn’t take enough risks
Smith is a man who understands that he’s not, in fact, just a man, but a brand: Will Smith, Inc. As such, he doesn’t allow himself to take any risks, in case he makes himself less bankable.
Certainly he’s made an absolute fortune with the movies he has made, but one look at the movies he turned down is equally revealing: ‘The Matrix’ wouldn’t have won him an Oscar but it would have given him an interesting career trajectory, while turning down the lead role in ‘Django Unchained’ has to go down as a howler – blood, cursing and racism don’t go down well with the brand. That Oscar winning script won’t just fall in his lap.
His big chance came in the wrong year
Smith’s best chance at Oscar success was in Michael Mann’s superb Cassius Clay biopic, ‘Ali’ – and Will gave, if you’ll pardon the pun, a knockout performance. This was the first time we’d ever seen the Fresh Prince actually act, and we loved every second of it.
An Oscar nomination was fair reward, but unfortunately for Smith, he was nominated in the same year that Denzel Washington made ‘Training Day’, and Washington’s grand-standing bad guy role turned the volume down on all other contenders. It was Washington who won the headlines that night, but it could so easily have been Will.
Acting his not his priority
Smith is a modern star for a new Willennium – it’s career suicide to funnel all your energy into just one area of entertainment when you could be a four-quadrant multimedia superstar!
Will’s movies are just one facet of his stardom – though he doesn’t trouble the charts much any more, Smith still makes music, and when he’s not writing or producing hit movies like ‘After Earth’ (cough), he’s busy playing agent to his irritatingly famous offspring while they attempt world domination. If he wants that Oscar, he needs to focus his efforts on filmmaking for the foreseeable future. Unless…