Smith has proven to be a proficient dramatic actor, despite being better known for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In this devastating drama, his portrayal of a struggling salesman earned him an Oscar nomination.
In this steampunk Western, Smith takes a critical and commercial beating, but the film’s infectious theme song makes up for it. It also made him a box office superstar.
1. The Pursuit of Happiness
A radio-friendly rapper, big-screen star and prolific producer, Will Smith’s larger than life persona captivated audiences across the globe. He first entered the public eye with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and then exploded into a Hollywood blockbuster machine with Men in Black and Independence Day.
The Pursuit of Happiness showcases Smith’s dramatic skills and earned him an Oscar nomination. This story about an impoverished salesman, Chris Gardner, who never gives up, will inspire you with its true-to-life drama.
There are many heartwarming scenes in the cineb film, but one of the most touching is when Gardner barricades himself and his son Christopher (played by Smith’s real-life son Jaden) into a subway bathroom so they can sleep for an entire night without fear of danger. The scene is a testament to how far Gardner is willing to go for his family.
2. The Hangover
One of the most beloved leading men in Hollywood, Will Smith’s illustrious career spans decades and many hit films. His diverse range of roles demonstrates his immense talents and ability to connect with audiences across multiple genres.
In this sentimental slice of naively picturesque Americana, Smith stars alongside Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. He plays Bagger Vance, the beaming caddy who guides a wealthy family member (Damon) through his recovery from traumatizing experiences during World War I.
Just as he did with Old School, Todd Phillips proves he knows how to craft boys-gone-wild comedy in this raucous Vegas adventure. Even the most predictable scenes — such as Galifianakis spitting Skittles on an unconscious Cooper — work thanks to the cast’s natural chemistry. Plus, the plot is more interesting than any snoozer you’ll see this summer.
3. The Pursuit of Happiness
This powerful story of a struggling salesman earned Smith an Oscar nomination and is a testament to the actor’s ability to carry even the heaviest of dramas. The film is also an excellent example of how well he can act with his young son, Jaden, on-screen.
Smith shows he’s not all about rapping fish and superheroes in this sci-fi thriller about a super-cool government agent who’s trying to take down a cloned version of himself. It’s not his best work, but it’s fun to watch.
Emancipation marks Smith’s return to acting after his infamous slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars, and critics are loving it. This tough, tense slavery drama is definitely worth the watch. Apple TV+ will release the movie on Dec. 1.
A romantic comedy, Hitch shows off Smith’s chemistry and charm in this blockbuster. Although romcoms often get a bad rap, this one proves they can be made with skill and sensitivity.
Before he was Hancock or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Smith starred as a grifter who woos his targets with the help of his trusted sidekick in this movie. It’s a funny film that showcases his comic chops before he became a star in the action genre.
Before he starred as the Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin, Smith teamed up with Martin Lawrence for this buddy cop movie. It’s a goofy flick that showcases Smith’s goofy charm and shows that comedy was his original vocation. This movie also features a solid supporting cast, including Gabriel Byrne and Jon Voight. A virologist tries to find a cure for a man-made virus in this intense thriller.
5. The Pursuit of Happiness
The Pursuit of Happiness is a melodramatic drama about a man struggling to make ends meet. While not as well-known as Ali, this film still showcases Smith’s acting chops and his ability to portray real-life emotions.
In the movie, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) works as a salesman selling bone density scanners to doctors and medical centers in San Francisco. However, he struggles to earn a decent living because the machines are not in demand and he constantly loses them.
While he is poor, he is determined to get back on his feet and provide for his son Christopher (Jaden Smith). Smith’s performance as Gardner is heart-wrenching and genuine. He makes the pain, struggle and hope of this film seem so real that you will find yourself inspired. It’s one of the best performances from Smith in his career.