Will Smith named most powerful actor


MUMBAI: Last night, The Pursuit of Happyness star Will Smith deposed Tom Cruise and fought off stiff competition from Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt when Newsweek magazine named him the most powerful actor in the world according to Sheeraz Hasan founder of www.Hollywood.tv.

The magazine’s list is based on how much money the actors’ films take on their opening weekends. To date, Smith’s films have raked in £2 billion at box offices around the world, and studio heads all say that having him star in their films pretty much guarantees they will have a surefire hit on their hands.

“Let’s put it this way. There’s Will Smith and then there are the mortals,” one producer said. “Will is the only thing in this business, the ONLY thing, that guarantees an opening weekend.”

His most recent film The Pursuit Of Happyness generated more than £150 million in ticket sales worldwide, an impressive amount given that the film had no special effects or slam bang action sequences. The key to his success lies in his being African-American and shunning the celebrity circuit with his wife Jada Pinkett.

“The audience has enormous affection for him,” a Hollywood insider said. “His appeal is so universal that he transcends race. He invites the white community in, yet he is credible with the black community. That’s a pretty hard trick.”

An on-off rap star with several hits to his name, including “Wild Wild West” and “Big Willie Style,” Smith’s remarkable rise to becoming a leading man in Hollywood is all the more astonishing given the fact he has been in films for little more than a decade.

Television audiences knew him best as the lead in the sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, but his breakthrough in film came when he teamed up with Martin Lawrence in the action thriller Bad Boys. Then, in 1996, he achieved stardom in Independence Day, which grossed more than £400 million.

Following the equally successful Men In Black, Smith firmly established himself as a leading man in 2001 with the film Ali, which earned him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the famed heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali.