Will Smith Reveals His Frustrations With One Of His Biggest Movies Ever

Even though I Am Legend remains one of Will Smith's most appreciated films ever, the actor reveals how disappointed he was by it.

By Apeksha Bagchi | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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Will Smith’s I Am Legend remains one of the most successful and highly praised films in the actor’s career. While it was not exactly a favorite of critics, Smith’s portrayal of the prime protagonist was majorly praised. Also, the film had the largest ever box-office opening of a non-Christmas film released in the U.S. in December and ended up being one of the highest-grossing films in 2007. But despite all the accolades the film garnered, Smith wasn’t satisfied with its success. 

Directed by Francis Lawrence, 2007’s I Am Legend is based on author Richard Mattheson’s novel of the same name. The story follows the outbreak of a major outbreak in New York City after a virus, actually created to cure cancer, turns out to be a dangerous mistake and wipes out 99% of the human population. And the majority of those who didn’t die, become Darkseekers- cannibalistic mutants who prey on those that survived. Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a U.S. Army virologist, who loses his family in the chaos of the plague, leads a lonely life trying to discover a cure to the virus and find more survivors like him. 

It was Will Smith’s passionate performance that took the spotlight and made the film a big success. But apparently, the actor wasn’t too happy with it. Recently, he appeared in Apple TV+’s The Oprah Conversation (via Entertainment Weekly) to promote his upcoming memoir, Will. When the conversation veered off to I Am Legend, Smith revealed to Oprah Winfrey that after the record opening the film received at the box office, he had a chat with James Lassiter, his producing partner, which infuriated the latter so much that he hung up on him!

James Lassiter had called up Will Smith to congratulate him on I Am Legend‘s opening to $77 million, thus becoming the first non-Christmas film in December to hit the milestone. But Smith revealed that he was not happy with the number as his perfection-obsessed mind was bothered by the film not making it to $80 million. He wondered whether there was something wrong with the story or if they should have tweaked its ending to be more Gladiatorlike. 

“I’m excited for 30 seconds, and then my mind drifts and I say to J, ‘Hey, why do you think we missed 80? He said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘No, it was 77, do you think if we would have adjusted the ending? Because I wanted the ending to feel more like Gladiator.‘ He’s like, ‘It’s the biggest opening in history, ever. What are you talking about?’ I’m like, ‘J, I get that, I’m just asking why do you think we missed the 80?'” shared Will Smith.

Will Smith concluded the story by sharing that given the fact that he was being the perfect example of “the subtle sickness of material success,” Lassiter did the most logical thing- he hung up the call. We too second Lassiter’s decision to hang up, and Oprah Winfrey did as well. Will Smith was likely being overly dialed in on a smaller detail in this case.

As for repeating the success of I Am Legend with a sequel (or the much-hyped prequel plans) and reprising one of his most iconic characters to date, both Will Smith and the original’s direct Francis Lawrence are not really willing to go down that road again. While Smith had established back in 2012 that he doesn’t want to be “the sequel guy,” Lawrence has admitted that viewers “weren’t in love” with Will Smith’s character in the film as his Neville is “not Indiana Jones” or somebody “you just want to see again and again and again.”