×

Will Smith Calls ‘After Earth’ the ‘Most Painful Failure’ of His Career

Will Smith has opened up about “After Earth,” the 2013 sci-fi film in which his son Jaden Smith also starred, calling it the “most painful failure” of his career.

The comment, in an interview with Esquire, came after the reporter referenced a “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” quote from Smith’s TV aunt, who advised his character on an episode, “Don’t let success go to your head and failure go to your heart.”

“That was a valuable lesson for me a few years ago with ‘After Earth,'” Smith said. “That was the most painful failure in my career.”

The Sony/Columbia pic, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, made $27 million on opening weekend and grossed a global $243 million on a reported production budget of $130 million. In comparison, in 2008, “Hancock,” the Smith-starring fantasy drama from Sony/Columbia, raked in $624 million globally and made $62 million on opening weekend. His rom-com “Hitch” made $368 globally and $43 million on opening weekend.

Smith said “Wild Wild West,” a pic that also opened with $27 million, was still a better experience.

Popular on Variety

“‘Wild Wild West’ was less painful than ‘After Earth because my son was involved in ‘After Earth,’ and I led him into it. That was excruciating,” the 46-year-old said. Then he contemplated the importance of having films that topped box office charts.

“I never would have looked at myself in that way. I was a guy who, when I was 15, my girlfriend cheated on me, and I decided that if I was number one, no woman would ever cheat on me. All I have to do is make sure that no one’s ever better than me, and I’ll have the love that my heart yearns for. And I never released that and moved into a mature way of looking at the world and my artistry and love until the failure of ‘After Earth,’ when I had to accept that it’s not a good source of creation.”

Smith said when he received box office numbers the following Monday, he was “devastated for about 24 minutes,” and shortly after, he received a call that his father had cancer. “That put it in perspective — viciously.”

After a 90-minute treadmill session immediately following the news, Smith had an epiphany.

“That Monday started the new phase of my life, a new concept: Only love is going to fill that hole,” Smith said. “You can’t win enough, you can’t have enough money, you can’t succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love. And I just remember that day I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.”

More Film

  • Rihanna5th Annual Clara Lionel Foundation Diamond

    NAACP Winners List 2020: Updating Live

    The 51st annual NAACP Awards, hosted by Anthony Anderson, are currently underway in Los Angeles. Angela Bassett, Billy Porter, Lizzo, Regina King and Tyler Perry are competing for entertainer of the year. On Friday night, early winners were announced, including “Just Mercy,” which picked up the award for best ensemble in a motion picture. OWN’s [...]

  • The Salt of Tears

    'The Salt of Tears': Film Review

    Handsome twentysomething Luc is a trainee joiner, a craft inherited from his doting single dad: a man at once proud of his son’s continuation of their trade, and hopeful that he’ll do something greater with it. When Luc asks his father if he ever wanted to design furniture rather than simply build it, the reply [...]

  • Time to Hunt

    'Time to Hunt': Film Review

    As context for those unaware, South Korea does not have the equivalent of the United States’ Second Amendment. Instead, the country enforces strict gun control — privately owned weapons must be stored at the police station — and fatal shootings hardly ever happen there. That’s important to know when watching Korean movies: It explains why [...]

  • SF Studios, Cinematic Inc. Join Forces

    SF Studios, Cinematic Inc. Join Forces on 'Comet in Moominland,' 'When the Doves Disappeared,' 'Omerta'

    SF Studios is joining forces with Antti J. Jokinen’s leading Finnish production banner Cinematic Inc. to develop and produce the animated feature “Comet in Moominland” and “When the Doves Disappeared,” adapted from Sofi Oksanen’s bestseller. “Comet in Moominland” and “When the Doves Disappeared” are being made by both companies as part of a five-picture deal. [...]

  • Tiger Rising

    Exclusive First Look: 'The Tiger Rising' Starring Queen Latifah

    Queen Latifah and Madalen Mills star in Ray Giarratana’s “The Tiger Rising.” The drama is based on Kate DiCamillo’s New York Times Bestselling children’s book and produced by Deborah Giarratana and Ryan Donnell Smith.  Highland Film Group is handling worldwide sales, which are under at the European Film Market in Berlin. The Tiger Rising” is [...]

  • The Berlinale Bear is Seen in

    Berlinale Enlivened by Anti-Chile State Violence Protests

    A politically charged Berlin Film Festival was further enlivened on the third day of the European Film Market by a demonstration targeting Chilean armed forces. On Saturday, the Martin Gropius Bau, the site of the EFM, saw a group of anonymous protestors unfurl a big banner from one of the market’s upper floors, with activists [...]

  • Vadim Perelman, Ilja Zofin, Lars Eidinger

    'Persian Lessons' Eidinger, Perelman Say Film Offers Parallels for Today

    Director Vadim Perelman and frequent Berlinale film star Lars Eidinger on Saturday championed their new Holocaust-set “Persian Lessons” as a timely, very German tale of how that dark history is closer to us than it seems, made uniquely possible by the fact that most of the film’s production team is not German. The film’s world [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content