Openly Gay X-Men Star Publicly Kissed Will Smith After Fresh Prince Star “Refused to kiss another boy on screen”

Will Smith learned a lesson he will never forget from Sir Ian McKellen.

Will Smith has played a variety of roles throughout his career, but there’s one that he could not properly portray on screen due to personal reasons. In the 1993 movie Six Degrees Of Separation, the Oscar-winning actor had to lock lips with co-star Anthony Michael Hall, which he declined to do.

will smith six degrees of separationWill Smith from Six Degrees of Separation
Sir Ian McKellen, an openly gay actor and also a star in the same film, confronted Smith to impart a lecture he will never forget. The X-Men lead came out of the closet during a 1988 radio broadcast in the UK as an act of protest.

Sir Ian McKellen Smooched Will Smith To Teach Him A Lesson

When Will Smith was required to kiss his co-star in Six Degrees Of Separation, he could not fully commit to the role and refused to do the act. Sir Ian McKellen was not impressed by this stunt so he made sure Smith realized his mistake. The actor told Time Out London:
He was a charmer and a good actor. But he did one silly thing: he refused to kiss another boy on screen, even though it was there in the script. Which was why, at an early previous, I met him in public outside the cinema and gave him a great big kiss on the lips.”

Magneto X-MenSir Ian McKellen as Magneto from X-Men

Smith, on the other hand, felt bad about his decision not to fully perform the task. He was concerned on what people would say about him if he kissed another man. The Emancipation actor further admitted via Entertainment Weekly that he was not ready for that kind of role.

It was very immature on my part. I was thinking, ‘How are my friends in Philly going to think about this?’ I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to artistically commit to that aspect of the film. This was a valuable lesson for me. Either you do it, or you don’t.”
McKellen certainly left an important lesson not only for Will Smith but for other actors who have qualms about playing gay roles.

Sir Ian McKellen On Being A Gay Actor

Gandalf Lord of the RingsSir Ian McKellen as Gandalf from Lord of the Rings

Deciding to come out as gay was the best decision Sir Ian McKellen ever made in his life and career. In his interview with Variety, the Lord of the Rings star reflected how it improved his acting skills:
Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better — my relationships with people and my whole attitude toward acting changed.”
The transition to portraying a movie character naturally came to him and he did not feel like he was pretending to be someone anymore.
The kind of acting that I had been good at was all about disguise — adopting funny voices and odd walks. It was about lying to the world. I was no longer in the situation where I was running along beside the character explaining it to the audience. I just became the character.”
McKellen is truly an inspiring person, and hopefully, by his example, actors like Will Smith will see the beauty of embracing different orientations in filmmaking. Besides, that is one of the privileges of being an actor.

Six Degrees Of Separation is available to stream via Prime Video.

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