In Focus, Will Smith plays a con-man who falls for a woman, puts her up on game, ends their budding relationship before he gets too close, and then eventually becomes her biggest rival when she herself becomes a con-woman.
The husband of Jada Pinkett Smith and father of Trey, Jaden and Willow, this is the kind of material he had been looking for at this point in his life.
“The collision between lying and loving was really interesting for me,” he explained during a recent international press conference for the film. “It just hit me at a great point in my life, the material I was looking for and the things that I wanted to do. I wanted to always have a parallel to what’s going on in my life. The concept of vulnerability in authenticity was at the forefront in my life.
“And then I read Focus and I thought it was such a genius way to talk about the absolute necessity for authenticity and openness to create an environment for love. This character to have that struggle was perfect for me.”
What did not mirror Smith’s personal life is the character’s expertise in the art of thievery. Will received training from world renown “deception specialist” and self-described “gentleman thief” Apollo Robbins, who worked as a consultant on the film and is considered the best in pick-pocketing.
Below, Will describes how Apollo wanted him to shoplift an item from a store as part of his training…and how he had to explain to Apollo that as a Black man the exercise probably wouldn’t end well.
Focus opens nationwide on Feb. 27.