Will Smith Personally Paid Extras Playing Dead Bodies In 100 Degree Heat In New Film

Will Smith paid extras playing dead bodies out of his own pocket, his new film’s director has said.
Credit: Alamy

Will Smith paid extras playing dead bodies out of his own pocket, his new film’s director has said.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star, 54, hit the headlines earlier this year after slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Rock had made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, 51, prompting the ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’ rapper to walk on stage and hit Rock in the face.

Afterwards, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his outstanding performance in King Richard – a biopic in which he plays the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

While that low moment overshadowed his award and saw him banned from the Oscars for 10 years, he’s now being praised for his work on Emancipation.

Watch the official trailer for Emancipation starring Will Smith…

In the movie, Smith plays a slave called ‘Whipped Pete’, and director Antoine Fuqua has praised his behaviour on set and demeanour around extras.

He told Vanity Fair: “He was kind to everyone on set.

“Will would go around and hug and shake hands – we had 300-something extras and military. Marines.

“We had to stop Will from doing that because of Covid.”

He added: “He’s funny. He’s fun. We had certain extras that were the dead bodies in the graves, and he would go give them money for laying there in that heat over 100 degrees.”

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‘Whipped Pete’ is an escaped slave who eventually joins the Union Army in order to fight in the US Civil War.

The film is based on a true story and will be released on December 2 in cinemas, before airing on Apple TV+ from December 9.

Naturally, Fuqua chose not to get into the Oscars incident, instead discussing his own personal experience of working with Smith.

“I saw a different person than that one moment in time,” he said.

“And so my reaction was that particular moment is very foreign to me when it comes to Will Smith.

“I have nothing but amazing things to say about Will Smith, really genuinely.

Will Smith at Oscars
Will Smith has been banned from the Oscars for 10 years after slapping Chris Rock. Credit: Alamy

“You can ask anybody that worked on the movie, they’ll tell you the same.

“Nicest person I’ve ever met in my life.”

He added: “It’s really hard to release a character who’s been brutalised and called the N-word every day – constantly, every day – and still be the nicest person in the world.”

Speaking himself, Smith said that Emancipation – due to the nature of the story – was challenging to make.

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Smith said the cast had therapists, spiritual teachers and a pastor on set, because of the ‘daily reminder’ of the subjects’ treatment, which he said was ‘punishing to our spirits’.

He did however say that he enjoyed ‘walking in Peter’s trial’, trying to understand and dissect what was ‘going in the heart and mind’ of his character.

Although Smith won’t be there, Emancipation is already coming up in conversations regarding next year’s Oscars, with many touting the film for success.

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Written by Cal Gaunt

Cal is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in writing trending and entertainment news. He previously worked as a news reporter at the Lancashire Telegraph and earned an NCTJ in Sports Journalism.