Will Smith was supposed to be a part of the Grammys’ 50th anniversary Hip Hop tribute performance but backed out, according to Questlove.
The Roots drummer, who curated the all-star spectacle, revealed to Variety on the 2023 Grammys red carpet on Sunday (February 5) that Smith had initially agreed to dust off his Fresh Prince persona and join the celebration.
However, Quest explained that the 54-year-old was forced to drop out to due obligations with his upcoming movie Bad Boys 4.
“I’ll give the spoiler alert away. Will Smith was a part of the festivities tonight, but they started shooting Bad Boys 4 this week,” he said. “There were a lot of preliminary shots that he had to do, so we had to lose Will.”
Questlove admitted that Will Smith’s inclusion was “a shot in the dark” due to the actor’s busy movie schedule, adding that Ice-T, Queen Latifah and LL COOL J — all successful actors in their own right — had to “leave their respective [TV] shows” to partake in the performance.
Will Smith’s absence didn’t dampen what was a historic moment for Hip Hop at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards. The almost 14-minute spectacle served as a victory lap for the culture that spanned multiple decades and regions, with appearances from a slew of Hip Hop pioneers.
From ’80s trailblazers like Run-DMC, LL COOL J and Public Enemy and ’90s innovators like Method Man, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes all the way to modern-day stars like Lil Uzi Vert, GloRilla and Lil Baby, Hip Hop’s impact and evolution over the last 50 years was on full display inside Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena.
Will Smith, meanwhile, announced that he and Martin Lawrence are returning for the fourth film in their beloved Bad Boys series last month. In a video posted to Instagram, Smith declared: “It’s about that time” as he pulled up to his co-star’s house with “Shake Ya Tailfeather” from the Bad Boys II soundtrack booming through his car’s speakers.
“It’s about that time. It’s official. Bad Boys for life,” Smith emphatically stated before he and Lawrence both realized 2020’s installment already used that title. “We shouldn’t have called it that, though. The three was the ‘E’ but this is Bad Boys 4.”
Will Smith is slowly but surely making his return to the limelight following his infamous slap on Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards last March. He most recently starred in Emancipation, in which he played the role of a slave named Peter who embarked on a journey to gain his freedom.
The film was inspired by the famous 1863 photo of “Whipped Peter,” an enslaved man who joined the Union Army in hopes of being reunited with his family. Emancipation followed Smith’s Oscar-winning role in 2021’s King Richard; ironically, the Oscar slap happened right before Questlove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary for Summer of Soul.