Even though Will Smith is going through a career crisis of sorts for infamously slapping fellow veteran actor Chris Rock at this year’s Academy Awards, there’s no denying his existing roster of hit leading roles in Hollywood. For many, the standout of those is his third-ever feature film, Bad Boys, which co-stars comedic legend Martin Lawrence.
Over 25 years and two successful sequels later, with a fourth currently in pre-production, director Michael Bay says the $840 million franchise’s longtime distributor Sony Pictures originally didn’t think it would even be a success with two Black actors in the lead roles.
While promoting his new film Ambulance, Bay spoke to Entertainment Weekly briefly about his directorial debut with Bad Boys. He was asked about his now-signature “hero shot” that dramatically circles the characters at a prominent climax in the movie. Bay said Bad Boys is where it started, and the inspiration was fueled by Sony’s doubt and disrespect for them during principal photography. “Sony didn’t believe in the movie, because two Black actors don’t sell overseas,” he said of their apprehensions, going to add, “And they shut me down, literally. They shut the power off. That’s how rude they were on this movie.”
Take a look below at how one shot and a determination to prove Sony wrong led Michael Bay to success with Bad Boys and one of the most imitated cinematic scenes in action film history, via EW:
“So I remember we’re driving our van. The line producer, he didn’t like me. I don’t think he liked anybody. I said, ‘Stop the car! Stop the van.’ And he’s coming up to me, the line producer, saying, ‘What are you doing, Michael? We don’t have time for this.’ I’m like, ‘This is going to be the trailer shot.’ For some reason, I just came up with this shot as we’re driving. And I said, ‘Where’s the circle trolley? Get the circle trolley.’ And we made this round move and you guys rise up and it became a very famous shot. People try to imitate it, but it was a seminal moment. ‘Bad Boys’ literally changed the game on Black actors. It’s the first movie that really traveled overseas.”
As we now know, Bad Boys would go on to make $141.4 million at the box office on a $19 million budget and solidify both Smith and Lawrence as certified Black leading males in Hollywood. We bet Sony is glad they didn’t go with their initial bias!
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