"I feel like I'm getting a fourth bite of the entertainment apple," says 50-year-old Will Smith. He's been a rapper, actor and film producer, and now he's a YouTube star with 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube; his latest video called "The Jump" garnered more than 17 million views in a week. "The Jump" featured Smith helicopter-bungee jumping into the Grand Canyon.
Smith's talk at Advertising Week turned into a motivational session for industry players in the audience and he won the crowd with some candid comments about everything from Hollywood to infidelity. Here are six gems from the fresh prince:
On 'Wild Wild West'
Making a blockbuster movie used to be easy. They hardly even had to be good, says Smith, and all the producers had to do was create a hot trailer.
"We used to say 'We're not in the movie business, we're in the trailer business,'" Smith says. "Once you have a good trailer you're done. Now, what's happened with technology, on Friday night at 7:30, people are tweeting, 'Hey Will's movie sucks, go see Vin Diesel's.'"
With the instantaneousness of Twitter, movies don't have the luxury of time to build box office success. "We no longer [have] the three-day window," Smith says. "If you had a great trailer, it was Monday at noon before everybody knew that 'Wild Wild West' sucked. You had already made your money. 'Oops, sorry, catch you on the next one.'"
On Vin Diesel
"Vin is sexy. Vin is a sexy man."
On change in Hollywood
"This is bullshit. We got to make fucking good movies now," Smith said, recalling the words of a Hollywood producer he met with a few years ago when they discussed how the industry is changing.
On metrics and risk
"Nothing is more valuable than your gut," Smith says. "The metrics are there to help you train your gut because at the end of the day you have to make the call on the extraordinary. The metrics keep you in the ordinary. The thing that succeeds is going to be way outside what somebody even thought was possible."
Smith was talking to a room of ad executives who live and die by the data and the metrics, but most of them cheered when he talked about defying the data when necessary.
"You use the metrics so you don't get fired," Smith says. "And then in that moment, you got to make a call when everybody says no. That's the one that makes you a legend. That's the one, when everybody is saying 'You can't do that,' and you're just like, 'Aaaargh, I'm sorry I think y'all are stupid.'"
On fatherly advice on dating
"You just cheat, man," Smith once told his oldest son who had come to advice about girlfriend troubles. His son, however, taught him a lesson about how times have changed since he was younger. "Dude, that's your generation. Cheating is over," his son said.
"It was so profound," Smith says. "I didn't get it." Then it dawned on him. "There is huge value in forcing authenticity."
On heli-bungee jumping
"It is absolute complete terror," Smith says. But then it transforms into something more like pure bliss.
His new YouTube channel is all about taking risks like "The Jump," and Smith says it has made him more willing to take risks in the rest of his professional life. Smith says he's putting himself in situations where his inner monologue is saying, "'You're going to die, you're going to die, you're going to die.'"
He has figured out, though, that the voice will be right only one time. "But [until] that one time comes," Smith says, "Why should you give a fuck? Just have fun."