As in most cases, when Hollywood is rocked by a big scandal, projects of those involved tend to gain more notoriety. This is certainly the case for Will Smith’s “slapgate” as now a title many may not know the Oscar-winning actor to have starred in is bringing in viewers by the droves via IMDb TV where you can check it out for free. While Smith may be known best for his work in big-budget live-action films such as the Men in Black franchise, Independence Day, and of course, most recently, the award-winning, King Richard, fans may not remember that Smith was a part of a DreamWorks Animation film. Long before his animated spy venture with Tom Holland aka Spies in Disguise, Smith was the featured voice in 2004’s Shark Tale.
Along with Will Smith, the voice cast behind Shark Tale was full of top tier talent that included Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Ziggy Marley, Doug E. Doug, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore, Peter Falk, Kevin Pollak, Katie Couric, and Martin Scorsese. That’s right. Katie Couric and Martin Scorsese were in an animated movie about sharks together! The early 2000s were really a remarkable time in the film industry.
The computer-animated comedy told the story of a group of sea creatures all involved in the mob business, which made it ripe for jokes centered around sleeping with the fishes. In it, Will Smith voiced Oscar, a fish dreaming of a better life full of fame and fortune. Through work relationships, Oscar gets swept up in a murder-for-hire plot in which he claims to have killed Frankie (Imperioli), the highly targeted son of a rival gang’s mob boss named Don Lino (De Niro). Finding himself tangled up in a web of lies, Oscar joins together with Frankie’s brother Lenny (Black) to keep the bluff going. The moral of the story is a real be careful what you wish (fish) for alongside some classic familial tropes.
With the storylines and acting talent combined, along with the incredibly well-done animation, Shark Tale quickly took over the theatrical world. Setting itself at a $75 million budget, the film would crush its goal when it raked in $374.6 million globally. Although the movie would go on to gain a mix of reviews from critics, who appreciated Will Smith and Robert De Niro’s talents, but weren’t thrilled at the jabs it took at the Italian community, it was a shoo-in for the awards circuit. The flick would go head-to-head with The Incredibles at the 77th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, eventually losing to Pixar’s superhero family.
As for Will Smith, he made some waves of his own at the 94th Academy Awards just last month. The King Richard star would bring home the celebrated Best Actor Award but overshadowed himself through his own actions. In case you’re wondering what we’re talking about, let’s take a speedy journey through the moments centered around the now-famous “slap heard round the world.” Prior to presenting the award for Best Documentary, which would go to Summer of Soul, presenter Chris Rock took a jab at Jada Pinkett Smith for her buzz cut. Perhaps knowingly or unknowingly to Rock, Pinkett Smith has alopecia which prevents her hair from growing, something the actress has been vocal about over the years.
After the audience’s laughter begins to die down, Will Smith can be seen walking up to Rock before taking a slap swing at the comedian and returning to his seat. In the most wtf moment we’ve seen at the awards show in a long time, no face was left un-shook. What was possibly even more startling is that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor then harassed Rock from his seat telling him to keep Jada’s name out of his mouth.
Since the moments of Will Smith’s swiftly violent reaction, fans, fellow performers, and members of the Academy have been calling for the actor to face consequences. While Chris Rock didn’t press charges, the Academy decided that Will Smith would not be allowed to attend the festivities for 10 years, something that many are seeing as nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Despite this, or maybe because of it, films that feature the performer, like Shark Tale, are bound to be on the rise in the upcoming days and weeks.