Will Smith has been in the headlines a lot recently after his latest project King Richard bagged a lot of nominations at the recent iteration of the Oscars. Ranging from a chance to win the Academy Award for Best Picture to a Best Actor bid for Smith, King Richard has emerged as one of the most prominent films of 2021 and Will Smith’s performance is a major reason why.
This is a welcome change after the actor was subjected to relentless media scrutiny last year due to the publicity surrounding his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith. Their relationship was endlessly ridiculed by the modern meme culture and all the harassment online contributed to Smith’s declining mental health at the time.
In addition to the publication of his memoir last year, Smith also worked on a documentary series about his health. While talking about that project, Smith also revealed his struggles with mental health issues during that difficult period: “I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself… That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide.”
Smith has turned it all around with King Richard, already picking up multiple major accolades such as a Best Actor prize from the African-American Film Critics Association along with multiple nominations whose decisions are yet to come out. He has also singed onto a Nat Geo project which will chronicle his journey from the South Pole to the North Pole.
According to Smith, two of the things that helped him during this time was physical exercise and reading. The actor maintained that reading was a crucial part of the human experience, insisting that we can gain vital perspective on all of life’s problems by delving into the seemingly infinite wisdom of the books written by our predecessors.
One book that Smith singled out was Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success. The actor said: “I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and he talks about the concept of 10,000 hours. That you don’t really settle into any level of mastery until 10,000 hours, and I feel like I’ve just completed my 10,000 hours of story structure and filmmaking.”
Out of these three, the book that had the most impact on Smith was Paulo Coelho’s famous novel The Alchemist. “Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist, which is my favourite book, he talks about the whole of the universe, and it’s contained in one grain of sand,” the actor said.
Smith claimed that he has believed in the same for a while now: “For years I’ve been saying that, and now it’s really starting to expose itself to me. My own grain of sand has been story. The next ten years will be my peak of innovation in filmmaking and just as a human being.”
Check out a list of the books that influenced Will Smith below.
Will Smith’s favourite books:
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki, Sharon Lechter