Saturday, January 14, 2023

Will Smith once declined to play Marvin Gaye because he doubted he was good enough

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Will Smith is no stranger to biopics with films like pursuit of happiness and Ali under his belt. At one point, Smith was also tapped to play another iconic character in Marven Gaye. But it was the one role Smith might not have thought possible.

Will Smith is perhaps known as a megastar at the box office. But he’s also starred in his fair share of biopics. According to IMDb, Smith has appeared in 5 biopics so far. In addition to projects like the pursuit of happinessSmith also portrayed doctor Bennet Omalu in the 2015 film concussion. Most recently, he won an Oscar for best actor for his performance in King Richard. There he played the real-life father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams.

The youngest slave drama emancipation directed by Antoine Fuqua was also very loosely based on the real life slaves Peter and Gordon. on The late show with Stephen Colbert, Smith joked that he’s considering playing former President Barack Obama in a biopic. He had even discussed the possibility with Obama himself, with Obama giving his blessing to Smith.

“Me and B were yelling about it the other day,” Smith joked. “He said one thing is certain; I have the ears to play it.”

Marvin Gaye was another icon Smith hoped to portray on the big screen. A Marvin Gaye biopic had been trying to make it to the big screen for years, involving various actors and filmmakers. Director Cameron Crowe was once tapped to finally bring the project to fruition, with Smith heavily courted for the role. But the process proved frustrating for Crowe, who was unable to get Smith on board.

“We’ve had a lot of meetings where we’ve talked about it,” Crowe once said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “And in the end he couldn’t say yes.”

Crowe further claimed that Smith may have found Gaye’s shoes a little too big for him. At least then.

“It’s difficult to play Marvin Gaye. He’s a phenomenal character… Who would want to be the guy who played Marvin and didn’t make it? Will’s not wrong,” added Crowe. “The guy that’s playing it should be a guy that’s going to go into it and know that’s the right thing to do, and I don’t think he’s ever walked away from that.”

Ironically, though Smith didn’t portray Marvin Gaye, Smith worked with the late singer’s daughter in his first biopic. Nona Gaye played Belinda Ali, former wife of boxer Muhammad Ali, in Smith’s title film Ali. Throughout the experience, Nona Gaye had nothing but kind words and high opinions from Smith.

“He made it really easy. And there was Jamie and Jeffrey – they were a bunch of really great, fun-loving people. It was really hard to stay introverted and anxious when I was surrounded by all this wonderful, positive energy,” Nona once recalled in an interview with Hollywood.

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