Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Will Smith tells Stephen Colbert he could kick young Will Smith's ass

Will Smith, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

Will Smith got the full three-segment treatment on Tuesday’s Late Show, with Stephen Colbert sagely allowing Smith to do his thing. Emerging from backstage only to do a high-fiving lap through Colbert’s crowd with Colbert trailing behind, Smith, there to promote his dual role as Will Smith and young, “100 percent digital” Will Smith in Ang Lee’s clone thriller Gemini Man, certainly had the energy of a young Will Smith. With Colbert effuisively praising Lee and Smith’s accomplishment in making it look very much like Suicide Squad-era Will Smith is getting his butt handed to him by Six Degrees Of Separation-era Will Smith in a clip, Smith held firm to the conviction that present-day Will would “whoop my young ass.” “This is man-meat right here,” explained Smith, patting his biceps, “That’s like old-man strong.” (He also admitted that old him would totally be up for some survival-of-the-fittest dirty fighting.)

Plus, as Smith told Colbert in response to a clip of the 100 percent flesh-and-blood Will Smith recently bungee-jumping out of helicopter over the Gand Canyon, present-day Will Smith is up for whatever. (Apparently the 51-year-old Will Smith is feeling so invincible, he will do any crazy-dangerous thing if enough people dare him on social media.) Still, as Smith told Colbert, the young him had his good qualities, even if choosing the right roles wasn’t always one of them. Explaining that “there’s a certain naiveté to youth that is powerful,” Smith yet, when pressed, admitted that youth can also make some very bad decisions, citing taking Wild Wild West and not taking The Matrix as examples.

“How do you think I feel?!,” roared Smith at the audience’s collective groan upon learning that Smith was nearly Neo. Well, at least that Wild Wild West money helped lay the groundwork for a lifetime of helicopter-jumping, and the honor of having a soundstage named in his honor at Tyler Perry’s newly opened Atlanta movie studio. Which is certainly nice, although Smith did admit to being brought back down to earth when he saw that other honoree Oprah Winfrey’s stage is bigger. “I was happy with mine, then I saw Oprah’s,” joked Smith, although he noted that you can’t get too upset at being upstaged by Winfrey. “I’ve seen Barack get Oprah something to eat,” said Smith, ably humble-bragging about how he hangs out with two of the most famous people on the world.

Share This Story

About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.