Will Smith, who rose to prominence in the early 1990s with his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is a multifaceted actor. He has since made a name for himself in the film industry, earning critical praise and awards. His roles range from comedy to drama and from action to thrillers.
In one of his earlier films, Six Degrees of Separation, he plays Paul, a young gay con artist who deceives several wealthy New Yorkers. His performance is powerful, if not exactly nuanced. Nevertheless, in his portrayal of the character, Smith draws a line at a same-sex kiss. He refuses to film a scene in which his character kisses a co-star, a move that was cut from the final edit. The decision was taken in response to the character’s homosexuality, a feature that both complicates and weakens Smith’s dramatic portrayal.
As a black actor, Smith believes that he is more completely identified with the roles he plays and that it is his responsibility to avoid any negative social or personal ramifications in the process. He argues that white actors, on the other hand, can make distinctions between themselves and their characters.
As a result, Smith resists any kind of sexualized profile in his movies and prefers to team up with another actor. He has done so with Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys and Bad Boys II), Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day), Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black), and Gene Hackman (Enemy of the State). Smith also occasionally works with a black actress, such as Marcelle Beauvais (Wild, Wild West) and Thandie Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness). Nevertheless, when it comes to portraying a gay character, Smith is still hesitant to embrace the full implications of that identity.