Will Smith was broke and owed millions in taxes when he auditioned for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The rapper shot to fame as rapper The Fresh Prince with childhood friend DJ Jazzy Jeff in 1987 with their debut album, Rock The House, and their follow-up album He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper went triple-platinum in 1989.
However, their third studio album And In This Corner was a flop, and Smith confessed he was in big financial trouble.
“Before I was in trouble with Uncle Phil, I was in trouble with Uncle Sam,” the 49-year-old explained in the video on Thursday (10May18). “Me and (Jazzy) Jeff had come out with a smash hit. We made a bunch of money, we won a Grammy, album was triple platinum.
“I had motorcycles and cars. I called the Gucci store in Atlanta, and I was like, ‘Hey, will y’all close it down if I bring my friends?’ And I’m smiling but that’s stupid. We released our next album and it was, like, a flop,” he admitted.
“It was a tragedy, it went, like, double plastic. I had spent all my money and I didn’t forget but I didn’t pay the IRS. In my mind, I wasn’t trying to avoid taxes, I was just like ‘Ah, damn, they need their money,'” Smith joked. “The IRS took all that stuff, so I was like, broke, broke, broke.”
After the IRS seized his possessions to pay the huge $2.8 million (£2.1 million) tax bill, the rapper was down on his luck.
However, his then-girlfriend who urged him to visit The Arsenio Hall Show to try and turn his career around, and it was there he met Benny Medina, who pitched him the idea for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But Smith turned the role down because he “wasn’t an actor”.
Encouraged by legendary music producer Quincy Jones to audition on the spot at a party at his mansion, Smith landed the part instantly.
“So the lawyers go into a limo and they’re drawing up the first deal for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. We took a picture and we signed the basic deal for Fresh Prince and three months later we were shooting the pilot and that’s the story of how I became the Prince of Bel Air,” Smith laughed.
“The moral of the story is always say yes and I guess listen to your girlfriend,” he joked.
– Cover Media0