By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Over the course of his long career, megastar Will Smith has fought off aliens (“Independence Day,” the “Men in Black” films), stepped into a ring as boxing legend Muhammad Ali (“Ali”), played a magical golf caddy (“The Legend of Bagger Vance”) and starred in a TV series (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”). But rarely has the action comedy star been called on to do a romantic scene in a movie.
That changes with his new heist film, “Focus,” in which he sizzles on screen with Aussie beauty Margot Robbie. In the high stakes drama, he plays Nicky, a con man, who takes Robbie’s Jess Barrett under his wing and teaches her how to pickpocket properly, among other things. He doesn’t, however, count on falling in love with his pupil, so complications ensue.
The 46-year-old actor is facing his own high stakes moment with the release “Focus,” directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. His last big budget studio movie, 2013’s sci-fi epic “After Earth,” sputtered at the box office. The experience forced the Philadelphia native to re-examine his approach to his work.
“I had to shift from goal-orientation, which made me crazy for a lot of years, to path-orientation, and into this moment right now and enjoying this moment,” he recalled during a recent press conference.
The multitalented Smith began as a rapper in the late ‘80s. Then he became a TV star with “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and then took off as a movie star, who could be counted on almost every summer to have a No. 1 hit at the box office. He was known as “Mr. July” in Hollywood.