I guess I’m not surprised by Will Smith being voted as Hollywood’s Most Powerful actor. Ever since The Fresh Prince dropped the little seen science fiction film Six Degrees of Seperation he’s been on the fast track. The dude has ruled the summer box office for almost a decade. Not to mention that he’s also racked up two Oscar nods for turns as real life peeps Muhammed Ali and Chris Gardner. Any idiot could see this one coming from a mile away.
But Newsweek, which conducted the poll, seems a bit surprised by this. Maybe cause he’s black, maybe cause he’s not names Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise or “Crazy” Mel Gibson. Either way, the new generation of Hollywood actors has assumed the mantle.
An actors power is determined by opening weekend gross. Since that’s the only time movies make any money these days. Smith was the unanimous selection. According to the piece, he’s bankable in everything he does.
At 38, Smith’s worldwide box office is more than Adam Sandler’s and Will Ferrell’s combined. He’s bankable in every genre, whether sci-fi (“I, Robot”), action-comedy (“Men in Black”), romantic comedy (“Hitch”) or drama (“The Pursuit of Happyness”). It was “Happyness,” a downbeat film that grossed an astounding $298 million worldwide, that opened the industry’s eyes to Smith’s reach. “He can do anything,” says one top studio exec. “The audience has enormous affection for him?we’re talking a Tom Hanksian level of likability.” His appeal is so universal that it transcends race. “He’s the black Jimmy Stewart,” says an industry insider. “He invites the white community in, yet he’s credible with the black community. That’s a pretty hard trick.”
That’s a nice little backhanded compliment. Not that he’s the new Jimmy Stewart or that he’s the next Tom Hanks or an amalgam of Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise. No he’s the black Jimmy Stewart. No. He’s fucking Will Smith. He’s the man. And any idiot going to the movies in the past ten years could have told Newsweek that. Could have told them that five years ago. The dude has earned over $4 billion dollars at the box office. Everything he touches turns to dollar signs.
Johnny Depp slid into the two hole, followed by Ben Stiller at three and Brad Pitt at four. Little surprised by Depp and Stiller being so high, but then Stiller’s comedies always earn a good box-office and Depp pretty catapulted to number two on the strength of the Pirates franchise.
Who do you think will be on this list in ten years? For our money we say Ryan Gosling or maybe an unknown comedian.