'I Felt an Electrical Shock': Will Smith Says the 'Hardest I've Ever Been Hit on a Movie Set' Was on Ali

Will Smith is recounting his time in the ring making Ali

Published Time: 07.06.2024 - 00:31:18 Modified Time: 07.06.2024 - 00:31:18

Will Smith is recounting his time in the ring making Ali.

The actor, now 55, portrayed boxer Muhammad Ali in director Michael Mann’s 2001 biopic. On First We Feast’s Hot Ones, Smith revealed “the hardest I've ever been hit on a movie set” was making that movie.

Michael Bentt, who in the film portrayed boxer Sonny Liston, a.k.a. “The Big Bear,” was working with Smith and a trainer on the set, he told host Sean Evans. “My trainer was trying to get me to get the angle of my spine forward. And in this second I just was like, ‘You know what? Commit.’ And I committed and leaned forward.”

Then, he continued, “almost as an instinctual reaction, Michael Bentt threw a right hand. And I saw it coming at the last second and I put my head down. And he caught me with a right hand right on top of my head.”

The blow, according to Smith, “didn’t knock my head back, it compressed my neck down onto my spine. I felt an electrical shock go down the back of both arms to my elbows.”

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All he could think in that painful moment, during which the I Am Legend star said he had “an electrical taste” in his mouth, was, “'Where the f--- are my keys? Where are my car keys?'”

Smith’s acclaimed performance in Ali as the trailblazing boxer earned him his first of three Oscar nominations. Mann, he told Evans, “is one of one” as a director.

“When we were shooting Ali, Michael Mann wouldn’t allow music to be played on the set that was made after whatever date we were shooting,” he recalled. “That's how wild he is about capturing the authenticity of a moment.”

When Ali died at age 74 in 2016, Smith had a special role in the late heavyweight champion's memorial service as one of its pallbearers.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die, in theaters June 7, reunites Smith with Martin Lawrence for the fourth installment of their action-packed franchise that began in 1995.

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