Fabián W. Waintal takes a walk down memory lane, while discussing the recently launched Netflix movie, Bright, with Will Smith

It was quite the surprise when Will Smith appeared at the Cannes Film Festival as a member of the jury. And an even bigger surprise when he was the only one defending Netflix for showing their movie without releasing it at a movie theatre. But now that we know he’s the star of the new Netflix film Bright, it all makes sense. And around an audience more familiar to his movie styles, in Comic Con-San Diego, he talked about it for the first time.

Could you present yourself to those who don’t know you at all?

Will Smith, Libra. I like long walks on the beach. I’m around if you’re around [laughs]. People knew who Will Smith was first with a TV show like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, then the international audience with movies.

Do you think Netflix will open yourself to another type of audience, or do you consider it a millennial modern movie theatre?

You know I have a 16-year-old, a 19-year-old and a 25-year-old at home. Their viewing habits are almost anthropological. It’s a great study to be able to see how they still go to the movies on Friday and Saturday night and watch Netflix all week. You know, so it’s two completely different experiences. But it’s an experience. I don’t think anyone’s trying to say that it’s an identical experience. Yes, I was on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. People would see me on the street and scream “Will! Will! Will!” And then Independence Day came out and that Monday after that everybody referred to me as Mr. Smith. So, there’s definitely something about that big screen that penetrates people in a very different kind of way. But it’s a different medium than Netflix.

But do you understand that movie theatre owners are worried about Netflix as their competition?

It’s very different. I’m sure it was the same kind of vibe when the transition happened from theatre acting, where you went to go see a play and then someone decided they were going to film it and put it together and move it to a movie theatre. You know, I’m sure that you know the purists had that same kind of feeling, but it’s different. It’s not the same thing. It’s something different; it’s almost a new art form.

Will Smith (right) and Josh Brolin (rear left) star in Columbia Pictures’ MEN IN BLACK 3.

Is there more creative freedom in Netflix, when they don’t need to worry about getting their money back with the box office?

Well, the major difference is the Netflix business model is different in a way, because it’s subscription based where what gets created is that their risk pro le is different. Netflix can make a hard rated R film for $170 million. The studios can’t do that. If the executive wants to be at work on Monday, but you know the risk profile if they’re going to spend $170 million, when you make a movie that expensive you have to broaden the audience which means that you have to be P.G. 13. Right? It is a huge decision where you make a film of that magnitude based on the risk profile. So, at Netflix, based on the subscription, they can make anything for any number that they feel like they’re fan base is going to want to see. As an artist, it’s free in that way that you get to be creative that gets slightly just confined when everybody’s jobs are on the line for the success of the three days.

Read the full story on our January 2018 issue and subscribe to our newsletter for more.