Will Smith returns to the big screen on Oct. 11, 2019, in the movie "Gemini Man." In honor of the film's release, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of Will's biggest moments in pictures. Keep reading for a photo flashback…
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Will Smith (seen here as a young man in 1990) was born on Sept. 25, 1968, in west Philadelphia to Caroline and Willard Carol Smith. At the time of his birth, his mother was a school board administrator and his dad was a refrigeration engineer.
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Will Smith rose to fame as a rapper in the 1980s. Performing under the moniker The Fresh Prince, Will rapped alongside his partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff. The hip-hop duo released their first album, "Rock the House," in 1986 and won the first Grammy Award for best rap performance in 1989 for "Parents Just Don't Understand." They released their most successful single, "Summertime," in 1991. The song would earn them their second Grammy.
Fresh off the heels of his music success, Will Smith got his big break on TV on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" in 1990. We still can't get Will's theme song from the show out of our heads. "In west Philadelphia born and raised / On the playground was where I spent most of my days / Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool / And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school" — at least until a fight he was in left his mom scared and "She said, 'You're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.'"
Will Smith took on his first big movie role in 1993 as Paul in "Six Degrees of Separation" alongside Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing. The performance earned him a most promising actor award nomination at the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards in 1994.
Will Smith and first wife Sheree Zampino welcomed son Trey Smith on Nov. 11, 1992. Trey hit the red carpet — and matched his dad — at the "Bad Boys" premiere in Los Angeles on April 6, 1995.
Will Smith and wife Sheree attended Will's first Golden Globes on Jan. 20, 1993. In 1993 and 1994, Will was nominated in the best actor in a TV comedy or musical series category for his performance on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Will has been nominated for five Golden Globes but has never won.
Will Smith had a memorable role in 1995's "Bad Boys" opposite Martin Lawrence. He played Detective Mike Lowrey in the film about two detectives protecting a murder witness while investigating a heroin case. The film was so popular that he took on the role again in "Bad Boys II" in 2003. Now another sequel is coming! In 2019, Will completed filming the third movie in the franchise, 2020's "Bad Boys For Life."
Will Smith divorced Sheree Zampino in 1995, but he found love again with Jada Pinkett. Will met Jada in 1995 when she auditioned for the role of his girlfriend on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Although she was too short for the part, she won Will's heart in real life. The couple wed in 1997 in a secret New Year's Eve ceremony in Jada's hometown of Baltimore. Since then, they've endured a lot of highs and lows and have faced many spilt rumors. But they're not shy about their PDA and have been open about their relationship! In November 2015, Will spoke to "Entertainment Tonight" about the state of his marriage. "You can't expect it to be easy," he said. "It's like our marriage was the most difficult, grueling, excruciating thing that we have ever taken on in our lives. And you know, we're just not quitters."
In 1996, Will Smith took on one his most iconic roles opposite Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day." In the action film, Will played an aspiring astronaut and USMC fighter pilot, Captain Steven Hiller. (But he did not appear in the film's sequel, "Independence Day: Resurgence," 20 years later.)
Will Smith starred in one of his most memorable roles ever in 1997. He played Agent J in "Men in Black." Along with Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones, he supervised aliens who live on Earth and made sure that other humans don't find them. Will also rapped the film's closing-credits song, "Men in Black," and earned a Grammy for the track in the best rap solo performance category in 1998. Needless to say, the film was a success at the box office, leading Will to reprise his role in the sequels "Men in Black II" and "Men in Black 3."
Will Smith co-wrote the hip-hop track "Wild, Wild West" off his album "Willenium." It was the wildly popular theme song for his 1999 film of the same name that saw Will playing Captain James West, who's tasked with saving President Grant from a 19th century inventor-villain.
In 1999, Will Smith won his fourth Grammy Award — for best rap solo performance — for "Gettin Jiggy Wit It." One year earlier, he took home a Grammy in the same category for "Men In Black." Will has been nominated for eight Grammys to date.
Will Smith became a father again when he and Jada Pinkett Smith welcomed daughter Willow Smith on Oct. 31, 2000. On Sept. 27, 2004, Will brought little Willow to the New York premiere of "Shark Tale." In the film, Will voiced a fish named Oscar.
In 2001, Will Smith took on the role of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in "Ali." As seen in this photo, they attended the Los Angeles premiere together. Will won the best male performance award at the MTV Movie Awards and the best actor trophy at the BET Awards. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe in the best actor in a drama category as well as for a best actor Academy Award.
Will Smith attended his first Academy Awards ceremony in 2002 with wife Jada Pinkett Smith by his side. Will was nominated for best actor for his performance as Muhammad Ali in "Ali." He lost the Oscar to Denzel Washington, who won for his work in "Training Day."
Along with Kevin James and Eva Mendes, Will Smith starred in the comedy "Hitch" in 2005. Will played Alex "Hitch" Hitchens, a dating coach who has to help Kevin's character, Albert, get the girl of his dreams. But Hitch has his own relationship problems: His strategy failed to work on Sara Melas, played by Eva. The hilarious film was a refreshing turn for Will, who was taking on more and more serious roles.
Will Smith got to star with his real-life son, Jaden Smith, in 2006's "The Pursuit of Happyness." Will played Chris Garner, a struggling single dad who gets evicted from his home with his young son. Chris tries to care for the boy while interning at a brokerage firm without pay. For this performance, Will was nominated for his second Academy Award and for another Golden Globe.
Will Smith was a lone survivor in "I Am Legend" in 2007. He played U.S. Army virologist Robert Neville. After a virus takes out most of mankind, it's up to Robert to come up with a cure while defending himself against mutants. In 2008, Will won the MTV Movie Award for best male performance for this thrilling turn, as well as the Teen Choice Award for favorite movie actor in the horror/thriller category.
Will Smith accepted the best actor award at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 12, 2009, for his performance in "Seven Pounds." In the drama, Will played Ben Thomas, a man who sets out to change the lives of seven strangers after being involved in a car crash that kills six people and his fiancée. Will also earned a BET Award for best actor in 2009.
Will Smith was nominated for a best actor Golden Globe for his portrayal of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in the 2015 movie "Concussion." Will starred with Alec Baldwin in the film about the doctor who discovered neurological deterioration similar to Alzheimer's disease in the autopsy of former NFL player Mike Webster. The film earned Will high praise, but he was snubbed when Oscar nominations were announced in 2016.
Following his perceived Oscar snub for his work in "Concussion," Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith (seen here at the "Concussion" premiere in November 2015) boycotted the Academy Awards in 2016. He spoke to "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts about it after Jada made a video explaining why they wouldn't be attending the ceremony that was famously dubbed #OscarsSoWhite on social media. "Had I been nominated and no other people of color were, [Jada] would have made the video anyway. We would still be having this conversation," he said. "This is so deeply not about me. This is about the children that are going to sit down and watch this show and they aren't going to see themselves represented." He further added, "Diversity is the American superpower. I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country, and make our Hollywood community, great. So when I look at the series of nominations for the Academy, it's not reflecting that beauty."
Will Smith has been in a lot of movies, but his role in "Suicide Squad" earned him more buzz than he's had in years. Will played Deadshot, the enemy of Batman. Will does not typically play villains, but he took on this character in order to explore his "dubious morals." He further told Comingsoon.net, "It's a character that hasn't really been explored in cinema. I get to design it and be a part of creating the first round of Deadshot in the history of cinema." He also got to co-star with Margot Robbie again just one year after they worked together in 2015's "Focus."
On Oct. 22, 2016, Will stepped out with his whole family — kids Trey Smith, Willow Smith and Jaden Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith — for the Environmental Media Association Awards. The Smiths were there to support Jaden, who earned a prize honoring stars who influence environmental awareness.
In 2017, Will Smith starred as Daryl Ward, a human LAPD officer with an orc partner, in "Bright." The urban-fantasy film, which was the most expensive Netflix film ever made, received scathing reviews but was beloved by audiences. It became one of the most streamed programs on the platform — Will even signed on for a sequel.
In July 2018, Will Smith performed the official song — "Live It Up" — alongside Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi at the closing ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow, Russia. The musical threesome are pictured here at a press conference for the event.
For his 50th birthday on Sept. 25, 2018, Will Smith did something major: He bungee-jumped out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon and filmed the stunt for his YouTube channel, simultaneously raising money for charity. "My Squad holding me down for my big 5-0," he captioned this selfie with wife Jada Pinkett Smith and kids Willow, Trey and Jaden.
After building a huge social media following on YouTube and Instagram, Will Smith launched his own Facebook Watch reality show, "Will Smith's Bucket List," in February 2019 (he's seen here a month later at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards). The show follows the A-list actor, who has 31.2 million Instagram followers, as he travels the world and checks exciting adventures off his bucket list.
In May 2019, Will Smith starred as Genie alongside Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud in Disney's live-action "Aladdin" remake. While speaking to reporters at the movie's premiere in Amman, Jordan, he said that filming the project was "one of, if not the best experience" of his 30-year career. He added that the role "called upon every talent I cultivated." He's seen here at a screening of the flick in Paris days before its release alongside the other stars of "Aladdin," director Guy Ritchie and composer Alan Menken.
While in Budapest, Hungary, promoting his film "Gemini Man," Will Smith reunited with DJ Jazzy Jeff for a rare concert. The duo performed hits like "Miami," "Summertime" and even the "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme song on the very special night — Sept. 25, 2019 — which also happened to be Will's 51st birthday!