Will Smith is one of the biggest movie stars in the world, though that wasn’t always the case. It was a position that he worked hard to specifically achieve. The actor has spoken before about words of wisdom he received from Arnold Schwarzenegger, but until you’ve heard him tell the story with a terrible Austrian accent, you haven't really heard it.
Will Smith recently appeared on the Graham Norton Show, where he told a story, which he’s told before, about how, at a Planet Hollywood opening many years ago, he asked Arnold Schwarzenegger how to become the biggest movie star in the world. He got an answer, and a pretty good one, but it’s best if you hear it from Will Smith as he does his best Arnold impression. Check it out.
Will Smith isn’t a complete stranger to accents. He’s certainly had roles where he’s had them, but then, in those cases he gets to practice, and he probably hasn’t practiced his Austrian accent beyond the few times he’s told this story in the past. Although, he sounds like basically all of us if we try to do an Arnold impression, he’s got a one-of-a-kind sound.
Accent notwithstanding, the advice that Will Smith got from Arnold is actually pretty good. To be the biggest movie star in the world, then you have to be a star outside of the United States. The people who have created fan bases in other countries are the ones that have really taken fame to another level.
And this advice is all the more important today than it was in the 1990s when Will Smith got it. Today, the international box office is a huge part of success for any theatrical release, and while there’s a growing perception that “movie stars” are less important today to film success, if you’re an actor and your movies have international appeal, that’s still going to be incredibly important to your career.
There was certainly a time when Will Smith probably was the biggest movie star in the world. He was the king of the July 4th box office for years thanks to movies like Independence Day and Men in Black.. And while he’s probably given up the crown of biggest movie star in the world, because Dwayne Johnson exists, he’s still a globally recognized star whose name can draw people to the theater.
And with the current Oscar buzz surrounding Will Smith in his starring role in King Richard, it’s possible Smith is about to see his public profile grow yet again. He might be on the way to being an even bigger star than he is right now. Best Actor Oscars don't necessarily make you huge stars, but they certainly don't hurt.
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