Pursuit of Happyness, Enemy of the State, Six Degrees of Separation, After Earth: Will Smith’s Movies Don’t Only Entertain; They Inspire Us
Will Smith is one of Hollywood’s biggest names and clearly only ever plays roles that speak to him at some level. He doesn’t need to make movies to earn his living; he can choose the characters that resonate with him.
The roles he’s played over the years are incredibly diverse – and, more often than not, you see him acting the part of a character which is inspirational in one way or another.
Let’s take a look at four of his most inspiring roles.
Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Top of the tree has to be the Pursuit of Happyness. Not only is it an unusual tale, focusing on the plight of a struggling salesman, who becomes homeless while raising his young son alone, but it’s also based on a true story.
Source: Pursuit of Happyness via Facebook
It’s not at all surprising that the Pursuit of Happyness features in a recent list of the top 20 inspirational movies, as compiled by gaming brand Lottoland. As we watch Chris Gardner’s descent into homelessness and a hopeless situation, we are stirred by his determination to escape the fate that the cards of life have dealt him. Through the various knocks and setbacks he endures, he remains a man of compassion and his will to do more than simply survive. Smith plays the role of Gardner with great authenticity and the film is made even more realistic with the knowledge that his own son, Jaden, plays the part of Gardner’s son Christopher.
Enemy of the State (1998)
In Enemy of the State, Smith’s character is quite different but, again, inspirational. There’s a sense of one man having to take on the world here as Smith plays the role of Clayton Dean, a family man and labor lawyer who gets framed for the assassination of a congressman. Of course, he’s innocent and is being used as a pawn to cover up a murder by a National Security Agency official. Instead of letting the government machinery win, though, Dean battles to clear his name, prove his innocence and get his life back. At every challenge, Dean raises his game and comes back fighting.
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
With the role of con-man Paul, in Six Degrees of Separation, Smith explores the effect one person can have on so many people’s inter-related lives. The movie begins with Paul, covered in blood, turning up at the home of a wealthy pair of art dealers. He claims to be a friend of their children who needs help. They take him in and share many stories with him but, when they discover his true identity, they kick him out. As the film plays out, the couple realise that they are one in a line of families who have been duped by Paul. His conman antics become the stuff of legend in their social circles. Even though his aim was to deceive, the con-man has a lasting and profound effect on the people he encounters, and actually inspires and motivates them to become better people.
After Earth (2013)
Source: After Earth via Facebook
The diversity of roles that Smith has played is part of his appeal and, even in a sci-fi role, Smith still has the ability to inspire his audiences. In the dystopian film After Earth, Smith plays Cypher Raige, head of an important family on a new planet called Nova Prime, where humans have settled having abandoned Earth. The focus of the story is the relationship between Cypher and his son, Kitai, with Jaden Smith again playing his own father’s on-screen son. Kitai has grown up in his father’s shadow and become disillusioned. In order to heal their relationship, the two take a trip but end up crashing on the now-uninhabited planet Earth. Whilst there, the two need to work together to overcome their fears and achieve their goal of returning home. Even though a box-office flop, this movie’s message is still an encouraging one.
With movies like these that can lift our spirits and make us believe in how much difference one person can make, it’s no wonder that we all love a Will Smith movie!