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Will Smith says Steven Spielberg ‘sent a helicopter’ to convince him to star in ‘Men in Black’

By Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

(CNN) — Steven Spielberg went to great lengths to convince an initially apprehensive Will Smith to star in the 1997 sci-fi blockbuster “Men in Black.”

Appearing on Kevin Hart’s Peacock show “Hart to Hart” on Thursday, Smith said that Spielberg “sent a helicopter for me… to talk,” in order to convince him to take on the movie, which Spielberg executive produced.

“It landed at his house,” Smith said. “And he had me at ‘hello.’”

Smith told Hart that he met with the Oscar-winning director in a room inside his home that was adorned with posters for iconic Spielberg movies such as “Jurassic Park” and “Jaws,” which Smith joked he felt were intentionally present to “remind” him about who exactly he was saying “no” to.

He went on to share that Spielberg asked him point blank, “Tell me why you don’t want to do my movie.”

“I didn’t want to make two alien movies back-to-back,” Smith admitted, adding, “I didn’t want to go from ‘Independence Day’ to ‘Men in Black’ – I didn’t want to be the alien guy.”

Smith starred in “Independence Day,” a sci-fi/action movie about aliens invading Earth, alongside Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum in 1996.

“Men in Black” also has to do with aliens, telling the story of a covert intergalactic organization that monitors crimes committed by aliens or those that pose a threat to Earth.

Of course, Smith ultimately did end up taking on the role of Jay in “Men in Black” and credited his decision to feeling “protected” by Spielberg’s credibility.

Clearly, it was the right decision, as “Men In Black” became a supremely successful franchise spawning two sequels, as well as a fourth installment, “Men in Black: International” in 2019.

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