Will Smith Tells the Story of How He Took ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Role When His Album Flopped
Will Smith has been the star of some of Hollywood's biggest movies but his most well-known role may be The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In a new video posted on YouTube on Thursday (May 10), Smith reveals how an album flop led to him landing the gig.
According to the actor, following the release of And In This Corner... with DJ Jazzy Jeff in1989—which only sold 500,000 copies compared to the 3 million that He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper moved—he was broke.
“Being famous and broke is a shitty combination,” the Smith said. “Cause you still famous and people recognize you, but they recognize you while you're sitting next to them on the bus.”
The actor then got into tax trouble, revealing the IRS took all of his motorcycles and cars. "I didn't forget," he said about not paying his taxes, "but I didn't pay the IRS. In my mind, I wasn't like trying to avoid paying taxes... The IRS took all that stuff, so I was like, broke, broke, broke."
After his tax trouble, Smith says he made his way to The Arsenio Hall Show at the request of his girlfriend and met former Warner Bros. Records A&R Benny Medina. The A&R pitched the show to Smith and setup a meeting with Quincy Jones, who gave Smith the chance to audition right there. Despite refusing at first because he wasn't prepared, Jones told Smith to "take 10 minutes right now and you can change your life."
Following his audition, the rapper says he impressed Jones and the head of NBC at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, and was given the role of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's titular character. "So, the moral of the story is, always say yes, and I guess, listen to your girlfriend," Smith joked.
Check out Will Smith recounting the story below.
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