Will Smith: ‘Dubai has an energy of progress’

One of Dubai’s biggest celebrity fans, the 48-year-old action man shares his life lessons with Vision, and discusses why his passion for the city shows no signs of waning

It’s hugely important to deliver positive energy because it’s viral. My work environment begins with me – I’ve even had a t-shirt made that says “positive energy is a part of your job description”. If I come with good energy, then someone else is going to pick up on that and might take it home to their family. We’re all here trying to feed our families and have a good time; and our time is all that we have.

Your mind goes so far into characters that you have to be really careful what you’re bringing into your house. One example was a movie I was going to do that my family voted “no” to. My daughter Willow read 20 pages and said, “you’re just going to be crazy, for too long”. The movie? It was ‘Django Unchained’.

My two favourite cities in the world are Miami and Dubai. In Dubai it’s the energy of progress – the way the people and the royal family think, and the design and ideas. I came for the first time about 15 years ago during a time when 40 per cent of the world’s cranes were in Dubai. When I landed, I thought, “If I were making a city, that’s how I would build it.”

At this point in my career, my mind is beyond critics, or even box office success. As an artist I can’t allow myself to be consumed by that because it affects my decisions too much. Ten years ago, I was consumed by being number one – I needed the movie to be number one. When you’re consumed by that, or trying to win awards, it taints your artistic delivery. I wanted to give myself more freedom as an artist to create the things that work for me.

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Taking a selfie with fans at VOX Cinemas in Deira

A friend said, which I use for myself, “I feel like at this point in my career, I’ve earned the right to fail.” So I am going to take shots, and I’m not going to hit them all, because I’m going to be trying really wild things. Some of them will be critically acclaimed, some will make money – and some will be ‘Wild Wild West’.

For me, a perfect day out in Dubai has to start at Skydive Dubai. That’s the best way to see the Palm from above. I also play a lot of golf here – there are some of the best golf courses in the world.

My daughter was here a couple of months ago and it was the most beautiful thing. She FaceTimed me from out in the desert on a camel. I thought that was just so amazing – the cross of technology with the old style of transportation. The Wi-Fi is really great in Dubai!

I’ve always been a good flyer. I can’t travel without my iPad. I have my library and all my books. I don’t watch movies a lot on flights. It’s a small screen and I feel a little disrespectful to my fellow artists. “Hey man, I caught your movie on the flight – you were so little!” I can roll without anything else, but I have to have my iPad.

I love Trinidad when I want to just go and disappear. South Africa is good to get away too. I’d like to visit the Seychelles, the Maldives, Bora Bora… I haven’t done a lot in Indonesia, so I’d like to go there. They’re the top destinations on my list.