Monday, August 29, 2005

On the set of Pursuit

A make-up artist is applying glamorous anti-glare to my imperfect forehead. She dabs concealer beneath my eyes and I start to blame the cosmetics industry for digging into people's self-worth with their products. I spot Will Smith's stand-in across the room. He's wearing a dirty gray Member's Only jacket torn wide at the elbow. He's extremely thin and sports a tight afro and a mustache that no father would dream of letting his daughter near. He speaks to the director and I now realize, of course, that this is Will Smith dressed in 1981 homeless wardrobe.

As a group of 30 actors we gawk without looking like we're trying to gawk. "Fly casual, " Han Solo might advise. In between shots he walks, jumps and keeps almost completely to himself. With the director as the exception, no one speaks to him.

In a boardroom scene with four board members WS makes a point of shaking each of their hands and introducing himself.

In my seven hours spent on-set, I never once see him crack a smile. Surprising, I think, given the friendly, likeable persona he works hard to maintain. The director asks him to do many takes of a difficult scene and Will's reply is curt and courteous: Yes, sir.

After fourteen hours dressed in bad ties, wool jackets and plenty of polyester, we finish the final shot of the day (the "martini") . Will Smith comes out and says:

"Can I have your attention please? Everyone? Your attention? I just want to say...thanks for being here. This is really all about you. Because without you...well, we would have had to hire some other guys."