HOLLYWOOD: The Academy Award for Best Actor Sunday night was awarded to Will Smith for his role in “The Williams Way” — after an argument during which he went on stage to slap comedian Chris Rock — crowning a career achievement that has seen “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” conquer the world. Music, television, then cinema.
The charismatic rapper-turned-comedian took home the world’s most famous film award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father and coach of tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams.
Upon receiving the figurine, the 53-year-old actor admitted between the lines that, a few minutes earlier, he had already hit on comedian Chris Rock who had just made a joke about his wife’s hair, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Love makes you do crazy things,” said Will Smith, crying. He apologized to the Academy that organizes the Oscars, without mentioning Chris Rock.
The actor thanked “Venus and Serena, and the entire Williams family, for trusting me to tell your story.”
“Richard Williams was a great advocate for his family,” he added of the man who played him on screen, a veiled reference to the gesture he had just made on stage.
Will Smith beat four other great competitors: Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield, and Denzel Washington.
It was a good third time for the indisputable Hollywood star who was already an unsuccessful Academy Award nominee, first in 2002 with the biopic Ali and then five years later with The Pursuit of Happiness, a story about fatherhood and the strength to pursue your dreams.
Will Smith thus becomes the fifth black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, after Sidney Poitier – who died last January – and Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker.
Comedy series and movies
Born in Philadelphia in September 1968, Will Smith was a promising student, but preferred to try his luck in music. He got into hip-hop in 1985 as “Fresh Prince” with fellow DJ Jazzy Jeff.
The duo was a success and won a Grammy in 1989, but financial difficulties later convinced Will Smith to switch to comedy. He found a tailor-made character in the TV series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, and became an international star.
The sitcom, in which Smith plays a high school student from a tough neighborhood in Philadelphia, to take shelter in the Millionaire neighborhood of Los Angeles with his uncle and aunt, lasted six seasons.
It was during this period that the actor got his first movie role, cementing his rising star status with a highly successful performance in the action movie “Bad Boys”.
In 1996, he starred in the groundbreaking “Independence Day” as a brave pilot battling horrific aliens. Will Smith rubbed shoulders with aliens again the following year in the global hit “Men in Black”, concurrently releasing his debut single album “Big Willie Style”, which sold six million copies.
This streak of success came to an abrupt end with Wild Wild West, which was a huge box office hit but a critical failure that Will Smith himself regretted.
Will Smith’s most unfortunate mistake in this film missed the opportunity to play the role of Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix”, the global success that marked the memories.
Men in black
With the arrival of the 2000s, the star has matured and taken on more serious roles such as “Enemy of the State” or “The Legend of Bagger Vance”.
By playing the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann’s movie “Ali,” Will Smith won his first Hollywood title in heavyweight: an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Continues left and right with the sequel “Bad Boys” and “Men in Black”, always successful.
But he does not forget that it was a joke that he faked himself and returned in 2005 with the romantic comedy “Hitch”.
The following year, he again co-nominated for Academy Awards with The Pursuit of Happiness and his touching performance as the father of a family, giving back to his son Jaden.
Beneath the features of the genius Aladdin, in a remake in true Disney animation, he has defined his greatest commercial success to date.
He was not finally honored by the Academy until the “Williams Method”.
The film traces the dizzying journey of the Williams sisters, from the miserable tennis courts of Compton, a poor suburb of Los Angeles, to winning Grand Slam tournaments. Smith plays their father, a self-taught coach who is as assertive as he is relentless.
Will Smith fell in love with Richard Williams long ago when he saw the man come to the aid of Venus, then only 14, and he was struggling with an overly arrogant reporter during an interview.
“That expression on the face of the flower… the image is engraved in my heart,” the actor said.