EW: Hi, how are you?
SMITH: Man, I am so good it’s almost a damn shame. [Laughs]
EW: I read that you came up with the story for After Earth yourself.
SMITH: I saw a story on CNN or something about an [Iraq war] veteran who came home and took his son on a trip. So I was trying to develop a story [about] a father who gets injured and the son has to save his father. At first it was set in Alaska in present day. Then the idea of throwing it a thousand years into the future came up, and we were like, ”Oh, wow.”
EW: Was making this movie with your son Jaden a good bonding experience? A lot of dads might just go on a fishing trip.
SMITH: This was the most excruciating father-son fishing trip in the history of the universe. [Laughs] My character is essentially the greatest warrior humankind has ever known, and his son is trying to come up in the ranger academy, so it’s very similar to the emotional issues that Jaden and I bump into, me being Will Smith and him trying to act. It was interesting for both of us to explore our relationship, our expectations of one another, our demands of one another, and even some of our resentments.
EW: Did your other kids want to be in it too?
SMITH: Some of the stuff that Jaden had to do on this movie, my other kids wanted no part of it. We were in Costa Rica, and there was a river that Jaden’s character has to get into. We had to have croc divers to clear the area before putting Jaden into the river. It was probably one of the worst displays of parenting in cinematic history. [Laughs] But the scene is fantastic.