I always pegged Bill Simmons as a Hollywood pussy. But this pretty much confirms it. I mean what red-blooded American male wants to see Will Smith suck face with another guy?
Okay so Simmons has up one of his templated 10,000 word columns at Grantland (named after a famous sports writer no one has ever heard of) where he mixes Hollywood in with sports. In a way too serious manner. Yawn if you’ve heard this before.
If you don’t have two hours to read it, here is Simmons’ thesis: Will Smith’s career was way too formulated and too conservative. Basically Smith could have been a great actor (not just a money making fucking machine) if took some chances on gay indie roles.
And Simmons points back to a film called Six Degrees of Separation – where Smith played a gay con man – to make his point.
I keep coming back to Six Degrees of Separation, the biggest gamble he ever made, when everyone doubted that the “Fresh Prince” could pull off a gay con artist in an indie movie. He pulled it off. Within that movie, Smith hits a couple of places that he hasn’t hit since: It’s a really good performance, a little like Leo in This Boy’s Life (same year, by the way) in that you left the theater feeling like you just watched the seeds planted for a meaningful movie career.
But Simmons seems totally despondent that Smith didn’t “kiss another dude.” Under the guise of art of course. (wink wink)
Of course, there was a moment in the script when Smith’s character had to kiss Anthony Michael Hall’s character, only Smith refused. They edited the movie so that, as Smith leans in for the “kiss,” we’re seeing him from behind and hear a smooch … only it never actually happened. Even at 25 years old, Will Smith was thinking ahead. He didn’t want to film a scene that could be thrown back in his face later. Or, he was afraid to kiss a dude. Or, he knew he couldn’t play anyone other than himself — as the past two decades have pretty much backed up — so kissing another man in a movie was impossible because he’s Will Smith and Will Smith doesn’t kiss guys. It’s a totally unauthentic moment in a performance that, otherwise, was totally authentic.
If you think Pursuit of Happyness or Ali is Will Smith’s defining performance, you would be wrong. It’s Six Degrees of Separation. Everything is on display: his once-in-a-generation charisma, his acting chops, his sense of humor, his sense of the moment … and, most of all, his self-awareness. He made Six Degrees to prove he wasn’t just a rapper-turned-sitcom-star, that he could actually act, that he cared about his craft. You know, as long as he didn’t have to kiss another dude. It was a chance, but a calculated one. He never took another one. Now he’s our one and only movie star, according to William Goldman. There’s a lesson here.
There you have it. Bill Simmons wants to see Will Smith make out with “dudes.” Which I guess would make him a real actor or something.