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Will Smith, King of Fourth of July

Will Smith is a power player in Hollywood, a movie star with a long list of hit films on his resume, so it's hard to think of him as anything else. But those of us of a certain age remember that in 1990, he was a rapper who lucked into his own TV series. The trajectory of Smith's film career changed greatly in 1996, when the film Independence Day opened across the US on July 3rd. It showcased Smith's acting chops in a way that opened doors to all sorts of blockbuster roles to come.  

As Vogue’s Julia Felsenthal has pointed out, the irony of Smith’s Hollywood coronation is that Emmerich had never considered his action-disaster spectacle to be star-driven. “One of the points we made was that we didn’t want this to be a movie-star movie,” the filmmaker said in 1996. “The movie was the star. We didn’t need a movie star to make it more expensive. And it would complicate the marketing.” And when crowds went in droves to see Independence Day, which premiered on July 3, 1996, the Will Smith they encountered wasn’t radically different than the one on Fresh Prince. On paper, Steven Hiller was just another smartass with swagger, but Smith seemed more poised and grownup than the sitcom kid audiences knew. And unlike Smith’s boisterous Bad Boys character, Hiller didn’t come across as a self-conscious asshole — Independence Day was the first time Smith seemed fully comfortable on the big screen, imbuing Hiller with effortless charm and buoyancy. Smith relaxed, and so we did, too. Suddenly, he looked like a movie star, the thing he was always meant to be.

Read about Will Smith's career and how Independence Day changed it at Mel magazine. -via Digg


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