Will Smith says that he nearly turned down the iconic role of Agent J in 1997’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 1996’s Independence Day. His former manager, James Lassiter, was adamant about Men in Black, however.
“In the heyday, the 10 movies I made at the top of my career, [James] was choosing the films,” Smith said. “He just had an eye. I didn’t want to make Pursuit of Happyness. I didn’t want to make ‘Ali.’ And [James] picked Men in Black. I kind of understood Men in Black a little bit but I didn’t want to make ‘Men in Black.’ That was the next year after Independence Day. So I didn’t want to make two alien movies back to back.”
Will Smith In "Men In Black"
“Steven Spielberg sent a helicopter for me to talk to me,” Smith continued. “I 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 can’t say no to that.” “He said the coldest shit,” Smith added. “He said, ‘Tell me why you don’t want to make my movie…’ 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, ‘Joker, you know I made Jaws, right? You know I made E.T.'”
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.