CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Actor Will Smith attends the "Ismael's Ghosts (Les Fantomes d'Ismael)" screening and Opening Gala during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2017 in Cannes, France.

While Will Smith’s 2022 Oscars slap was all anyone could talk about for months, he is one of the most successful actors of the past 30 years. With years of performances under his belt, he’s done comedies, dramas, action films, and everything in between.

Early Career

Just as Smith’s acting career was taking off when he landed his breakout role in the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But he simultaneously was building himself up as a rapper. He was a part of a hip-hop duo with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Fans of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air might recognize him as Jazz, Will’s best friend in the series. As a duo, they released five studio albums. They also had several popular singles that landed placements in the Billboard Hot 100, including “Summertime,” “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” “Boom Shake The Room,” “Ring My Bell,” and more. They won two Grammys as a duo and had four nominations. They were the first rappers to ever win a Grammy, for Best Rap Performance for their record “Parents Just Don’t Understand” in 1989.

Film Career

He became a legit movie star with the Bad Boys franchise in 1995. He returned to the franchise with Bad Boys II (2003) and Bad Boys for Life (2020). A fourth Bad Boys film that has yet to be titled is supposed to be out sometime next year. While he was making his name with the Bad Boys series, he also got to be in another franchise: Men in Black. The first Men in Black sci-fi comedy was released in 1997, which was later followed up by Men in Black II (2002), and Men in Black 3 (2012). Besides being in franchise films, he also worked on Hancock, Seven Pounds, Independence Day, Ali, and more. He earned first Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams (tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams’ father) in King Richard in 2022.

Here are ten great Will Smith films. Check below if your favorite made the cut.

  • The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006

    The Pursuit of Happyness is a film about triumph, determination, and courage. In the film, Will plays alongside his real-life son Jaden Smith as a single father looking to finally be financially stable for his son. Set in ’80s San Francisco, Will plays the role of Chris Garner, who is hopeful at the end of his unpaid internship as a stockbroker that he will be able to secure a more stable environment for his son. For this role, Will was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards per IMBD. You can stream The Pursuit of Happyness on Hulu, YouTube, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime.

  • Hitch, 2005

    Smith plays the character Hitch in a rom-com about a man who falls in love with a journalist, played by Eva Mendes. He also helps his friend played by Kevin James, grab the attention of a beautiful heiress played by Amber Valletta. This role showed off how well Smith is as a comedic actor in film just as much as he is a dramatic one. You can stream Hitch on Hulu, YouTube, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime.

  • Bad Boys (franchise), 1995, 2003, 2020

    Comedy and action duo Will Smith and Martin Lawerence started the first installation of the Bad Boys franchise, playing two detectives that are protecting a witness to a murder. Fans couldn’t give enough of the Smith/Lawerence combo and greenlit two more films, creating Smith’s first break as a franchise actor. The duo made headlines last year with their third installment releasing nearly 17 years after the sequel. However, the bad boys aren’t done, as Sony Studios has tapped the two for an additional film, per The Hollywood Reporter. There is no set release date as of now. You can stream the Bad Boys franchise on Hulu, YouTube, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime.

  • Men in Black (franchise), 1997, 2002, 2012

    This sci-fi action film grabbed Will as their leading man playing an NYPD officer investigating extraterrestrial activity. Iconic scenes include Smith fighting with a giant cockroach and the “alien birth” scene. Will plays alongside Tommy Lee Jones, offering comedy and action-packed thrill. You can stream the Men in Black franchise on YouTube, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video.

  • Ali, 2001

    In the Muhammed Ali biopic, Will showed his acting abilities for a more serious role. Ali focused on the life of professional boxer Muhammad Ali from 1964 to 1974 through his heavyweight champion title and political stances. Smith starred in the film alongside Jamie Foxx and Jon Voight. Smith and Voight were both nominated for Oscars for their roles. You can stream Ali on Starz, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV+.

  • Hancock, 2008

    Smith plays the superhero Hancock who has a “don’t care” attitude and doesn’t think too much about what others think of him. His perspective changed when he goes out to save Ray and Mary Embrey played by Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron. Smith won the “Best Actor” award at the 2008 BET Awards for his role. You can stream Hancock on YouTube, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video.

  • I Am Legend, 2007

    I Am Legend is a sci-fi fantasy film based in New York City where Smith is a survivor of a plague that kills most of humanity. The film stars Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson, and Smith’s daughter Willow Smith. He won an MTV award for Best Male Performance in 2008. A sequel to the film was announced back in March 2022 and it is rumored that Michael B. Jordan is set to star alongside Smith. You can stream I Am Legend on YouTube, Apple TV+, and Amazon Prime Video.

  • Independence Day, 1996

    This sci-fi thriller is most notably known for its impressive visual effects and sound as it won the 1997 Oscar for Best Visual Effects and a Grammy award the same year for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television. Smith also has a stand-out performance as Captain Steve Hiller who fights to save mankind from an alien invasion. Alongside Smith, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, and more. You can stream Independence Day on Starz, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+.

  • Six Degrees of Separation, 1993

    Six Degrees of Separation was one of Smith’s first larger films starring opposite Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland. Channing and Sutherland play a New York couple that can’t seem to shake Will’s character, Paul, from their mind. Based on a play by John Guare, it follows the theory that everyone can be linked through just six social ties. You can stream Six Degrees of Separation on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.

  • Enemy of the State, 1998

    In Enemy of the State Smith plays a lawyer that becomes the target of a corrupt politician’s game after receiving classified information. Smith plays alongside Gene Hackman, who plays an ex-FBI agent, and Jon Voight who is the corrupt NSA official. Will was nominated for Best Male Performance at the 1999 MTV Awards. You can stream Enemy of the State on Hulu, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube.

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