Not everyone in Hollywood is nice, but those who are can be really, really nice. Will Smith appears to be among the latter. The superstar has a new memoir en route, simply called Will, and between excerpts and media appearances, we’ve been learning a lot we didn’t know about him. Some of it is worrying (he once contemplated suicide and thought about killing his father). Some of it is juicy (he considered amassing a “harem,” then thought otherwise). But here’s one story that is unambiguously heartwarming.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Smith was not exactly happy when Warner Bros. announced they were moving their entire 2021 slate to day-and-date releases, which is to say in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time. That included King Richard, the biopic in which Smith plays Richard Williams, father to tennis legends Venus and Serena. That also meant the cast could potentially make less money, as streaming could — and often has — eaten into theatrical profits.
Smith, of course, would be fine. He’s unimaginably wealthy. But his costars aren’t. So Smith took a payday that could be as high as $40 million and cut everyone some checks — what THR refers to as “a nice bonus,” on top of what they were already receiving from Warner.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I have never worked with anyone as generous as Will. What you said [he gave bonuses/gifts to all of the talent] is true. When this movie, when Warner Brothers decided not to release it, to put it out on streaming, there was a lot of controversy as people know and we just got a call from Will saying, ‘I’m going to make this right.’ I’ve never experienced it, I was floored. I just couldn’t believe it.”
But Smith didn’t stop at bonuses. According to young actress Layla Crawford, he bought some cast members new phones and other goodies:
“He gave us Polaroid cameras and different treats all the time. He’s just such a generous and sweet person. He also gave us iPhone 12 Pro Max gifts in boxes. We ripped them open and everyone started crying. I literally cried my eyes out — it was the best gift ever,” she explained. “Will Smith is a blessing, I learned so much from working with him.”
In summary: Will Smith isn’t perfect, but at the end of the day he’s one of the good ones.