With the help of New York Times bestselling author, Mark Manson, the fresh prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith’s first memoir, Will is born.
Willard Carroll Smith II., the firstborn of Willard Carroll Smith aka Daddio and Carolyn Elaine Bright aka Mom-Mom has always thought of himself as a coward. Despite being a A-list movie star, Smith is not afraid to embrace his cowardice in the first page of his book no less.
Largely it’s due to Daddio’s fiery temper that a young Smith has to resort to being a clown to keep his dear Daddio happy. Daddio’s assault on his mom when he was 13 left such a deep mark that Smith regrets till this day as to why he didn’t lift a finger to help his mother then. By simply disappearing into his imagination, make believe is the only thing keeping a young Smith sane.
In Smith’s typical humorous, laidback manner, the autobiography spent chapters detailing his loving relationship with his religiously-inclined grandma, Gigi also his quick ascend to the world of hip-hop with collaborator, childhood friend DJ Jazzy Jeff and his drastic fall from grace. A failed marriage, a loss of partnership and an IRS tax invasion contributed to it. But all thanks to legendary producer Quincy Jones, The Fresh of Bel-Air introduced him to Hollywood and the rest like they say, it’s history.
Most interestingly, Smith offers a funny anecdote on the making of Bad Boys and the reason why he rejects Man In Black initially (until producer Steven Spielberg has to make a call to him personally). There’re also his heartbreaking thoughts on the dismal failure of After Earth which also starred his son Jayden. There’s never short of Will’s boasting and emphasis of his near perfect streak in the box-office from 2002 to 2008 or his successful records however. If you are expecting Smith to comment on yet another of his renowned flop Wild Wild West or The Legend of Bagger Vance, you will be sorely disappointed.
Still, there’s a decent chapter devoting to the hard work that goes to his Academy award nominated work on Ali. Another box-office bomb to be frank but he did get to meet Nelson Mandela in person while filming in Africa. Parts of the memoir is contend with fleshing out Smith’s relationship with his children, Willow gets a decent exposure and his eldest, Trey gets a few mentions along the way. But it’s his relationship with his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith that’s going to attract the attention of prying eyes. The star couple has controversially expressed their views on monogamy although this is not explicitly explained here.
Will is largely a memoir to seal his status as a huge movie star despite being in the industry for more than three decades. Nothing revolutionary or dark creepy secrets to come out of the celebrated actor and rapper. He even admits he is more of a workaholic than being hooked on drugs and sex. In fact, Smith becomes more of a motivational speaker and preacher towards the end of the book. All in all, 418 pages of Smithology isn’t a bad read in the last week of 2021. Entertaining at the very minimum.
Review by Linus Tee
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