Will Smith couldn’t be here due to production on Bad Boys For Life, but in a video message told the crowd: “The emotional and physical challenges of this film were really insane for me, but with the guidance from and collaboration with the incredible Ang Lee we have managed to shoot something that has never been done before. It’s an action adventure but also an exploration of the idea of what one’s younger self can teach one’s older self. I’m 50, and the irony of becoming the 23-year-old Junior is that the 23-year-old me wouldn’t have had the experience level to take on this role. It’s a marriage of nuance, relatable characters with some crazy action also.”
Lee took the stage and said: “If you’re a movie director and you get Will Smith, you should consider yourself very lucky. Thanks to new technology, I got two — so much Will Smith in this movie. … I found out that the present-day Will Smith is such a surprisingly fine actor. He brought so much character, such sophistication, melancholy and courage”
Lee added: “The really hard one is the Junior 23-year-old — we have very high class problems — because Will Smith is a lot better actor today than what he used to be. I’m not joking. I don’t know how how daring an actor has to be to get down to the pure layers. We get down to the essence and innocence, and he performs from there. The result is heartbreaking. It’s something I’ve never experienced before.
“I had him for a year, I had it up to here with so much Will Smith,” he joked. “I think I know this man’s essence as a friend and person and a fine actor.
“I’m in the homestretch, a month away, still tweaking. I’m trying, trying, trying. … We’re in the homestretch, we took a leap of faith,” said Lee.
The footage showed Smith’s two halves encountering each other with guns. “They made you from me,” says the younger self, “They chose you because there’s no one like you or me.” Clive Owen and Mary Elizabeth Winstead also star.