Will Smith jokes he's guilty of spreading misinformation in I Am Legend in wake of coronavirus outbreak
"I feel responsible," Smith, who played a virologist in the film, teased during a family Red Table Talk discussing COVID-19 facts.
Will Smith would like to make amends for any false facts you may believe about viruses after watching one of his movies.
The actor opened up about his experience preparing for 2007's I Am Legend during an appearance on Red Table Talk to talk about the coronavirus pandemic. Smith joined host and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, his children Trey and Willow (son Jaden was social distancing from the family after traveling), and Jada's mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones for the family chat.
“I wanted to do this because in 2008 I made I Am Legend so I feel responsible for a lot of the misinformation," Smith joked early in the one-hour Facebook Watch original. (Although Smith is a year off. I Am Legend came out in 2007.)
In I Am Legend, Smith played a virologist who survived a man-made plague that turned humans into zombies. As a part of his preparation for the role, Smith said he met with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the same group that is giving people across the nation the information they need during the coronavirus pandemic.
"There was a basic foundational comprehension of viruses and viral pathogens. It really changed my life and how I looked at the world," Smith said. "There’s basic concepts that people do not understand."
Red Table Talk brought on two guests via satellite to give people the facts they need without having to watch I Am Legend. First was Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases. Among his many words of advice was clearing up the misconception that people are getting the virus not only through the air but from grabbing doorknobs and rubbing their eyes. "It may occur rarely. But the most important way is just breathing in the air," Osterholm said.
He also added that he recommends more than just three to six feet separation between you and others at this time. "If one of you had it in the room you're in right now," Osterholm said to the Smith family, "you might transmit it to everyone sitting around the table."
The second guest was a 25-year-old named Chira who has had the coronavirus for 10 days, beginning on March 6. Chira, who was videoing in from West Hollywood, explained she had a friend who had just come back from London and her friend group wasn't taking it seriously yet, but soon she and six of her friends had anywhere from "high fevers to horrible body aches," although the length of the illness varied widely.
Beginning the week of March 9, with the coronavirus spreading to more than 40 countries, the World Health Organization and medical experts began recommending social distancing. Although most movie theaters have closed and concerts and festivals have been canceled in that time, it may be too late for some to prevent infection. Stars like Idris Elba and Tom Hanks have already reported having contracted the virus.
“By the time this gets done, it’ll be worse than influenza," Osterholm warned. “We are beginning to slow it down in the sense that we’re starting to get people to understand it."
Watch the full Smith family Red Table Talk below.
I Am Legend