Over 25 years later, Will Smith is still going strong!
Today is the release of Will Smith's latest movie Men In Black 3, in which he reprises his role as Agent J alongside Tommy Lee Jones. Movie critics are hyping the film as an almost guaranteed smash hit, something that Will has perhaps grown accustomed to over his career spanning four decades. From hip-hop, to the small screen and the big screen (and everything in between), we chronicle the highlights of Will's lengthy resume.
DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince- Before Will was ever an actor, his first claim to fame came as a rapper alongside childhood friend Jeff Townes. Known as DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, the duo released five albums throughout the 80s and early 90s and had several hit singles. They won the first ever Grammy award for Best Rap Performance in 1989 with Parents Just Don't Understand, while Boom! Shake the Room hit No. 1 in several countries in 1993.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- Will had no previous acting experience when NBC approached him to star in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but he managed to strike gold on his first attempt. The show featured Will as a fictionalized version of himself--a street-smart kid teenager from West Philadelphia--who gets sent to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel-Air mansion. The show aired 148 episodes over six seasons, ultimately turning Will into a household name.
Independence Day- When The Fresh Prince of Bel Air came to a close in 1996, Will moved from the small screen to the big screen in a big way. Playing the role of Captain Steven Hiller in the 1996 star-studded sci-fi film Independence Day, Will immediately established himself as an A-list actor with the film's success. The movie grossed over $816 million worldwide, which at the time was the second-highest worldwide gross of all time!
Men In Black- Despite the success of Independence Day, Will is perhaps best known for his role as the alien-fighting Agent J in Men in Black. Combining lofty special effects with the black suit/white shirt/black tie combo that became a high fashion trend among men, the film was an instant smash that grossed nearly $590 million worldwide. The success of Men In Black not only generated two sequels, but set the stage for Will to begin taking on more serious projects like his Academy award nominated performances in Ali (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006).
Solo Rap Success- With Will having far more star power than DJ Jazzy Jeff by the late 90s, it only made sense for Will to reignite his music career by going solo. 1997's Big Willie Style became the most successful album of his career, going multi-platinum and sparking four No. 1 singles including Gettin' Jiggy With It and Just the Two of Us. Although 1999's Willenium featured the No. 1 single Wild Wild West and the two albums that followed also performed well on the charts, he has yet to match the success of his first solo effort.
Marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith- Any A-list actor is almost required to have a really, really hot wife. Enter Jada Pinkett Smith. Jada had recently starred alongside Eddie Murphy in 1996's The Nutty Professor and when the pair married in 1997, they immediately became Hollywood's hottest couple. Despite recent rumors about their marriage being on the rocks, the pair still publicly seems as happy and content as ever.
Scientology- Throughout Will's 25 year career, his most controversial role has been as a supporter of Scientology. He and Jada have donated money to support Scientology projects, but deny being Scientologists themselves. "You don't have to be a Scientologist to be a friend of Tom Cruise," said Will. "I just think a lot of the ideas in Scientology are brilliant and revolutionary and non-religious." Will has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to Christian ministries and mosques.
Jaden and Willow Smith- All signs are pointing to Will's success becoming a family act with his two children. 11-year-old Willow Smith went platinum with her 2010 debut single Whip My Hair and is releasing her debut album later this year. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Jaden Smith is taking the acting route, appearing alongside his famous father in the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness and starring with Jackie Chan in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid.
Will you be watching Men in Black 3?
Photos courtesy of Fame Flynet