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WILL POWER

(TV & Satellite Week July 2000)

Click to view pcitures from the movie Enemy of the StateWill Smith is a force to be reckoned with.  So far, his big-screen outings have seen him save the world (several times) by fighting aliens, a legless megalomaniac and a huge mechanical spider but Enemy of the State, which gets its first showing on Sky Premier this week, has him running scared.

'I'm used to hiding behind bells and whistles, explosions and aliens,' says Smith, who shared the screen with some stunning  special effects in films such as Independence Day, Men in Black and Wild, Wild West. 

'When you have all that eye candy, it's hard to miss.  But with Enemy of the State, this is just me standing up and saying, "Come see me!"'

He plays Robert Clayton Dean, a young lawyer whose life falls to pieces when he comes into possession of an incriminating computer disc and finds himself the target of a terrifying manhunt.  His only hope of survival lies with a reclusive surveillance specialist, played by Gene Hackman.

'The entire wrath of the United States' technical surveillance capabilities are all pointed at this one guy,' Smith explains.  'The frightening aspect of this film is that the guy isn't the president, he isn't a famous ballplayer.  He's a regular, average Joe, just trying to go to work and feed his family.'

Smith, on the other hand, has come to expect a certain degree of prying ever since his early days as the Grammy award-winning rap artist and sitcom star.  'It's a game sometimes with the paparazzi - just the technology they use,' marvels 31-year-old Smith.  'They'll set up motion-detecting cameras in the bushes around my house!'

Apart from the occasional press intrusion, Smith enjoys a harmonious home life with his second wife Jada Pinkett Smith, whom he met in 1990 when she auditioned for the part of his girlfriend on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  At the time, the show's producers deemed the diminutive actress too small to team up with the 6ft 2in star on screen, but that didn't stop them from tying the knot for real on New Year's Eve 1997.

The couple are currently expecting their second child - (Smith's third - he also has a son, Trey from his first marriage) and as well as looking after their family, the pair have also collaborated on a script for a romantic comedy in which Smith plans to star.

Before that, though, he'll play the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in a biopic due for release next year.  Although Smith is honoured to be portraying his black role model, he needed some persuasion.  'I turned it down eight times,' he reveals. 'You can't just do Ali ...  Then he called and asked me to do it.  What was I supposed to say?'

Naturally, Smith said yes and set about getting in shape, training for over three hours a day with Ali's former coach.  But Smith's sparring partners should be warned - he's floored some tough guys in the past.

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