Michael Bay Convinced Will Smith That A Shirtless Scene Would Make Him A ‘Frickin’ Movie Star’

By the early 1990s, Will Smith was already a Grammy-winning rapper and Golden Globe-nominated television star. That wasn’t enough for the Fresh Prince, though: he wanted to be the king of Hollywood, too. An above-the-title role in Six Degrees of Separation gained him critical recognition, but Smith didn’t become a MOVIE STAR until 1995, when Bad Boys came out. And it’s largely thanks to a shirtless scene.

With Bad Boys for Life, the third film in the Bad Boys franchise, out this week, Smith was recently asked by The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon about working with director Michael Bay. “So Michael Bay was shooting this scene, and I wanted to have my shirt on. And Michael was like, ‘Dude, I’m gonna make you a frickin’ movie star! Take your shirt off.’ I was like, ‘Mike, come on man, running with your shirt off? Come on, man.’ And he was like ‘Dude, you don’t know! I know,'” which, yup, sounds like Michael Bay.

Eventually, they came to an understanding. “I was like Mike, ‘I have to have a shirt. I’ll have it open, just not off.’ And we compromised, and it was one of the iconic scenes from that movie,” Smith said. Whenever they run into each other now, possibly while running away from an exploding building, Bay always tells Smith, “Dude, I should be in for half!”

Bad Boys for Life, which was not directed by Bay (Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah had the honors) but does re-team Smith with Martin Lawrence, opens on January 17.