Career Peak – The point in an actor, actress or director’s career when they have given their best performance, reaching a point they will probably never match again!
The idea is to examine a person’s film or television career and decide when their career peak was; the moment that they gave their best performance or produced their best work. This could be with their first movie; it could also be yet to come. It’s designed to spark friendly debate too so if you don’t agree (or do, which would also be good) then feel free to add your suggestions below.
With the release of the Suicide squad trailer recently, it was quite surprising to see Will Smith in amongst lots of other movie-stars, sharing the lime-light. Although he played a key part in the trailer and only had Margot Robbie to rival his screen-time, it was unusual to have Will Smith not leading his movie, being the sole name at the top of the poster and standing in front of the others as the sole attraction. The fact is, Will Smith is no longer the star attraction he once was and it may be that his star is finally dwindling.
Will Smith – Career Peak: Independence Day
This may be a bit of a shock but quite easy to justify. You think back to Will Smith’s career and there are plenty of great movies. There are also some fantastic performances and he has done a great job of transforming his persona but that transformation has never been as well realised as he’d have hoped.
Independence Day made Will Smith the star. He is excellent as the cocky, confident, wise-cracking pilot who helps save the Earth. He surpasses all other actors and characters in the movie and then wisely used this character to help him lead many other movies of his own. The next step was of course Men in Black where, quite wisely and without any surprise, he played pretty much the exact same character – and the film was great because of it.
The next few movies just played on the same theme. Enemy of the State was slightly different but was still Will Smith shouting incredulously and being shocked at the situation he had found himself in. Wild Wild West was back to be his wise cracking self and it wasn’t difficult for him to reprise the same roles for Men in Black and Bad Boys sequels – as well as I Robot too.
There is only so many times you can play the same role before it turns stale and Will Smith has spent his whole career going back to what he knows best (Hitch, Hancock, Men in Black 3). It wasn’t long before Will Smith then tried to change the direction of his career and to his credit, this was met with some success.
Will Smith is a good actor and this is demonstrated well in films like Ali, Seven Pounds and The Pursuit of Happyness. The problem is, these aren’t the films he will be remembered for. You ask the general “person on the street” to name a Will Smith film and these three will follow low down the list behind Independence Day, Men in Black or even Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
I’m not saying Independence Day was the best Will Smith has been or was the greatest performance he has ever produced. Independence Day was Will Smith’s stamp on Hollywood though and inadvertently the actor began to typecast himself. It also meant that as he moves away from that “type of role,” his success begin to go with it. People liked Will Smith in Seven Pounds but they would rather see him in Independence Day 2.
Which is also why he probably made the decision to give that sequel a miss. Suicide Squad is different. It is Will Smith as a supporting role rather than front and centre and his career will hopefully benefit because of it. Going back to Captain Hiller in the sequel to the movie that made him famous has to feel like a step-backwards and a dangerous fall into a type-casting trap.
Overall, Will Smith’s career never really went beyond Independence Day. From the moment he punched an alien back into it’s spaceship, the actor has been playing the same sort of role to make himself Hollywood royalty. It’s only now, when he has tried to move away from that role and into something more serious and dramatic, that his career is dipping. Critical acclaim is one thing but his career needs an injection of fun and something much more positive – and hopefully Suicide Squad will deliver that.