Cast your minds back to 1999, a simpler time when it seemed that Will Smith could do no wrong. TV, music, film — Smith was a genuine jack of all trades, winning over fans with his Bel Air antics, multi-platinum selling rap albums and the double whammy of Men In Black and Independence Day in cinemas.
Then this happened:
It's hard to exaggerate what a disappointment Wild Wild West was when the film was first released. Despite grossing over $52 million more than it's budget, the sci-fi western was universally panned by critics, who resented the film's predictable plot and tired gags. Not even a giant mechanical spider and a dapper-looking Will could save Wild Wild West from the bargain bin of your local Blockbuster.
During a recent Cannes Lions session, James West himself revealed that Wild Wild West was a low point in his career, and this is from the guy who starred in After Earth, so you know he's being serious.
“I had so much success that I started to taste global blood and my focus shifted from my artistry to winning. I wanted to win and be the biggest movie star, and what happened was there was a lag — around 'Wild Wild West' time — I found myself promoting something because I wanted to win versus promoting something because I believed in it.”
While this isn't exactly surprising, it's still disheartening to hear a star of Smith's caliber approach filmmaking like a sport that needs to be won.
Wait though, it gets worse.
“Smoke and mirrors in marketing and sales is over. People are going to know really quickly and globally whether a product keeps its promises. I consider myself a marketer. My career has been strictly being able to sell my products globally, and it’s now in the hand of fans. I have to be in tune with their needs and not trick them into going to see 'Wild Wild West.'”
It's only taken 17 years, but Smith has finally admitted that he knew Wild Wild West was bad while promoting the film worldwide.
We wonder if Will felt the same while doing the rounds for After Earth, which he told Esquire was an even more devastating misfire than Wild Wild West:
“'Wild Wild West' was less painful than 'After Earth' because my son was involved in 'After Earth' and I led him into it. That was excruciating.”
Still, it's hard to stay mad at Will. Sure, Wild Wild West may be one of the worst films that the star has ever released, but at least the accompanying music video featured Smith throwing a hat to himself from across the room. Trust us. This 14-second clip is more entertaining than all 107 minutes of the Wild Wild West movie.
And now, you obviously want to watch the whole music video (because '90s), so jump back in time with this amazing clip and try to forget that Will Smith tried to trick us all those many years ago.