Will Smith stars in the emotional new film “Collateral Beauty” as a grieving father who writes letters to Love, Time, and Death after his daughter passes away. Smith spoke with FOX411 about how his new project helped him cope with his own loss real-life loss of losing his father.
FOX411: What was that like for you to take on such an emotionally-draining role?
Will Smith: It can definitely be draining. What happened with me that was really beautiful is in the preparation for the film and trying to get into the mindset it came up that I had to address the issue of my father’s mortality. So we had an opportunity while I was preparing for the character and dealing with all of the issues of the character, that there was a mirror going on for me in real life. [I was] able to grow and connect and discuss and I was able to confront some of the ideas embodied in the film in my real life. So by the time I hit the set, I was thoroughly emotionally prepared with a firsthand comprehension of some of the ideas that the character was dealing with. So I hope it shows through.
FOX411: What did you personally walk away with from doing the film?
Smith: Yeah, this is one of those ones where you’re different forever. Having to confront and ponder and embody the ideas of love, time, and death — it was so great on the set to talk about those things because everybody has experiences in all three areas. The magical element of it was beautiful too because it was New York and Christmas there was sort of a magical element that lifted it from being dark and heavy.
FOX411: What do you consider when choosing a new role?
Smith: I definitely have a few people that I work with in the process of choosing. I’m at the point in my career where now I’m just… trusting the universe to put the thing right in front of me that I’m supposed to be doing. So when those screenplays show up, I’m doing a lot less pre-planning now than I used to. I used to look at two or three movies in a row [and think], “Well, I can’t do that one next because I’m going to do this, it needs to be ‘Bad Boys’ then ‘Independence Day,’ then, no can’t do ‘Men In Black’ next because you can’t do two alien movies.” You know, all of that. So I do a whole lot less of that today and more just vibing it.
Fox News Entertainment Producer Ashley Dvorkin covers celebrity news, red carpets, TV, music, and movies. Dvorkin, winner of the 2011 CMA Media Achievement Award, is also host of “Fox 411 Country,” “Star Traveler,” “Fox 411 Big Screen,” and “Fox on Reddit.”