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Will Smith competed with Tom Cruise to be the biggest movie star

Will Smith | Karwai Tang/WireImage


Will Smith competed with Tom Cruise to be the biggest movie star


Will Smith claims in his new biography “Will” that he methodically studied Tom Cruise’s press tours while plotting how he would become the world’s biggest movie star, even bigger than Cruise.

Smith remembered contacting Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis for assistance on the opening of their co-founded restaurant Planet Hollywood in Sydney, Australia, in May 1996, in his memoir published on Tuesday.

Schwarzenegger, best known for his part in the “Terminator,” films, told Smith, “You are not a movie star if your movies are only successful in America. You are not a movie star until every person in every country on earth knows who you are. You have to travel the globe, shake every hand, kiss every baby. Think of yourself as a politician running for Biggest Movie Star in the World.”

Smith heeded Schwarzenegger’s advise since he was the star of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and wanted to make the move to blockbuster films.

“I started to notice how much other actors hate traveling, press, and promoting. It seemed like utter insanity to me,” Smith says, confessing that Schwarzenegger’s advice prompted him to “scan the field of my competition to see who else knew, who else held the secret.” Smith’s investigation led him to Cruise, who he described as “the head of the pack.”

Smith adds, “I started quietly monitoring all of Tom’s global promotional activities. When I arrived in a country to promote my movie, I would ask the local movie executives to give me Tom’s promotional schedule. And I vowed to do two hours more than whatever he did in every country.”

Smith stated that his goal proved to be more difficult to achieve than he had anticipated.

“Unfortunately, Tom Cruise is either a cyborg, or there are six of him,” Smith adds. “I was receiving reports of four-and-a-half-hour stretches on red carpets in Paris, London, Tokyo… In Berlin, Tom literally signed every single autograph until there was no one else who wanted one. Tom Cruise’s global promotions were the individual best in Hollywood.”

Smith, who began his career as a rapper, realized that the best method for him was to hold free live gigs in between film premieres.

According to the publication, Smith stated, “Tom couldn’t do that — neither could Arnold, Bruce, or Sly.”

“I’d found my way out of the entertainment news segment and into headline news. And once your movie moves from entertainment to news, it’s no longer a movie — it’s a cultural phenomenon.”

Smith’s new memoir, “Will,” is out today and contains more details about his life.


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