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Why Will Smith Became Obsessed With Becoming The Most Famous Entertainer On Earth

There are all kinds of reasons why people strive to be famous. Some crave attention, others want money, and some folks just want to be on the damn television. In the case of Will Smith, one of the biggest stars on the planet, this desire springs from an unlikely source, a bad relationship when he was just a teenager.

Talking about his upcoming head trauma drama, Concussion, with Sicario’s Benicio del Toro for Variety’s "Actors on Actors" series, Smith discussed the desire of his character, real life Nigerian doctor Bennet Omalu, to come to America. It was this overwhelming yearning that drove him, and the actor brought up the driving factor behind his own career, though they’re very different origins. He said:

When I was 15, my girlfriend cheated on me. And from that moment, in this bizarre psychological twist, I wanted to be the most famous entertainer on Earth, because I believed that your girlfriend couldn’t cheat on you.

Like I said, two very different things that propelled to very different men. The desire to come to America and to become a famous entertainer in order to stave off infidelity may not have a lot of similarities on the surface, but they certainly each served to push Smith and Omalu forward.

For his part, Will Smith is very aware that making this connection is a pretty big leap, but tracking down that desire, getting to the bottom of what makes a person tick, is a key part of his process and how he ultimately finds his characters.

Concussion is a dramatic thriller about Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Smith, a forensic neuropathologist who was the first medical practitioner to discover CTE, or Chromic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease that has now been found in many football players due to repeated head trauma. The film follows Omalu’s quest to bring this condition to the light of day, as well as his battle with the powers that be in professional football that tried to cover up or debunk his findings.

If you’ve watched football recently, you’re well aware that protecting players from the dangers of concussion and head trauma has become a huge priority for the National Football League, and much of this is due to Omalu’s determination to not let this information be swept under the rug or discounted.  Check out the trailer below.

Concussion is slated to open on Christmas Day, and we’ll finally get our chance to see what may be Will Smith’s most serious dramatic role to date, or at least one of them.