So the title is clickbait… I never actually met Will Smith, not in the way you’re thinking. I guess encounter is a suitable replacement since it was short-lived. But if we’re going by an “encounter” that lasted a short while without any real personal exchange then yes, I’ve encountered the Fresh Prince before.
See I was a big fan, I still am, partially because I saw my future self in the present Will Smith. An eloquent guy who’s used his talents to the max. The guy has had his hand involved in music, sitcoms, movies as an actor, producer and writer. According to his page on Wikipedia: “He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office, eleven consecutive films gross over $150 million internationally, and eight consecutive films in which he starred open at the number one spot in the domestic box office tally.” In short it’s easy to see why he’s so popular. I could go on and talk about his charm etc but I’m not one to praise any human too much, although I did hype myself up a lot in years past but that phase has passed.
Anyway to what you actually want to hear. On the 3rd (?) of August 2016 I waited in Leicester Square from around 7 AM for the London premiere of Suicide Squad. It was scheduled to start at around 1600 onwards but I didn’t know that at the time. I was there before the first of the construction workers/engineers arrived. Long before the security that gives out wristbands required for entry had woken up. I was really excited. I’d only found out about the damn thing the night before and would not miss out on the opportunity to encounter someone I’d looked up to for ages. So I waited, in my favourite, comfortable hoody and pants. I waited… until the moment came.
Soooooo I don’t know exactly how it happened but I found myself near the edge of one of the walkway in Leicester Square. The area was basically inaccessible for the ‘stars’ unless they chose to ride the raised platform. As a fan you think it’s a no-brainer that they’d do it. But in retrospect it makes sense that they wouldn’t dare try (especially the ladies in heels, it was a slick surface). So about 40 other people and I had to watch in horror as Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne, Jared Leto, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and co walk by just an arm’s length away. If you had the audacity you could stretch over the railing and touch them but the security would be on you in a heartbeat and they seemed content, eager in fact, to guide the celebrities as far from our corner as possible. We were all devastated. You have to understand. Across the walkway, about 10 yards from where I stood, people were taking selfies and exchanging sly comments with the celebs and here we were – our throats aching from screaming their names, basically pleading for them to take a chance over the raised platform that was separating us from them. I even admit to starting a few chants like: “Cara Cara Cara”, “Margot Margot Margot” (and they were effective because the whole group joined in) but they were ultimately in vain. The chants caught their attention, they looked at us, they really did and their eyes did connect with our pleading ones but security had seen the ledge and adjudged that none of them would be allowed near our corner.
So I was very annoyed. Once you were positioned you weren’t allowed to change areas, because security. The people with me were one of the first to arrive yet we’d all been dealt the worst hand. EVERYONE else got a fair opportunity to take a selfie or have an autograph with a large number of stars. Everyone but us. I felt awful (haha). But guess who came along? Yup. The Fresh Prince himself decided to be our hero. He looked at the ledge and at the small mass of people shouting his name and stepped over it like it was never there – then the screaming started.
I heard screeches, whoops, hollers and a lil’ ululation… that was all just from me by the way. Some of these were sounds I’d never made in my life! Now get this; I was and am a fan but I wouldn’t say I obsess or even think about Will on a monthly basis. But in that single moment I Lost. My. Mind. With all the shouting going on around me I joined in too. That’s when the realisation of the power of mass movement really hit me. Anyway the man stepped over the ledge, people went nuts and he started giving out his autograph. I was the wise guy that had neither pen nor paper and you’ll never guess what I said when he walked in front of me and looked me in the eye…
“Sign my face Will!”
I don’t know if you’ve seen that clip of Beyonce reacting with a look of shock when she’d looked down from the stage but Will shot me that same look. Surprise and maybe a little disgust? I don’t know he didn’t find it funny. It was unprompted from me, just a random uncontrollable reaction but it was enough to spur him to move on. Those around me got their shirts and posters signed. I was also the first to ask for a selfie. The man noticed me again but elected to keep signing autographs. I think he really didn’t want to come into contact with people’s phones but he eventually gave in and guess what. He started taking selfies… but none with me.
I know… I know. Sad, right? But I actually wasn’t overly disappointed at the end of the day. It turned out to be one of those experiences that helped me cement the idea that celebrities may be awesome and all but the reverence we show them shouldn’t exist because underneath it all they’re just people like you and me. I mean sure, sing someone’s name and look up to them but don’t allow yourself to be obsessed with someone who couldn’t care less about knowing your name. I’m not saying this because that’s my opinion of Will Smith but this odd and kinda funny encounter helped me form this opinion and it’s one I’m sticking by.
I hope you enjoyed the read. Below is the link to the video one of the people that was there took. See if you can pick out which voice belongs to me: