Like any major star worth their salt, Will Smith has made choices good and bad. An unqualified success can be followed by an unmitigated disaster. In a recent interview with GQ (as caught by The Hollywood Reporter), the rapper-turned-Oscar-nominated thespian frankly discusses the highs and lows of his long career. And while his picks for favorite films are no surprise, neither is his choice for his worst.
“For the best, I think it is a tie between the first Men in Black and The Pursuit of Happyness,” Smith said. “For different reasons, those are the two almost perfect movies.” The first, of course, is a blockbuster that spawned a franchise. The second is a tense drama that netted him his second Academy Award nomination (after Ali).
As for his nadir? “Wild Wild West is just a thorn in my side,” Smith admitted, laughing. “To see myself with chaps. … I don’t like it.”
Released in 1999, Wild Wild West was the first dink in Smith’s newly shiny armor, his maiden critical and commercial flop after first becoming a big screen superstar with Independence Day, Men in Black, and Enemy of the State. The take on a long-forgotten hit TV show was supposed to be a no-brainer grand slam. It even reunited him with Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld. Alas, people weren’t in the mood for a bloated Western with Kenneth Branagh as a legless racist spouting slurs. Nor were they into a climactic battle with a giant robot spider.
Of course, one could argue that Wild Wild West was ahead of its time, or that it paved the way for better movies about Black cowboys, like Django Unchained, the 2016 take on The Magnificent Seven, or the forthcoming Netflick The Harder They Fall. Or you could argue that it remains bad and that moviegoers of the late ’90s were right the first time.
Still, it could have been worse. Smith could have chosen Collateral Beauty, the 2016 drama in which he plays a grieving widower whose friends trick him into talking to what he believes are mystical beings…who actually are mystical beings. Or something. Now that movie is a trainwreck.