Will Smith Personally Paid Extras Who Worked in Extreme Heat in New Film 'Emancipation'

Will Smith

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Will Smith attends the 70th Anniversary during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Andrea Raffin /

Will Smith was so moved by the sight of extras playing dead bodies in extreme heat on the set of 'Emancipation' that he paid them out of his pocket.

The director of Will Smith's new film, 'Emancipation', Antoine Fuqua, stated that Smith paid extras on set with his own money.

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The Apple TV+ film features Smith as a man who was enslaved on a plantation in Louisiana during the 1860s. He eventually escaped and joined the Union Army during the Civil War.

The film is based on the true story of Gordon, a man whose photographs- depicting his bare back covered in scars from whippings- were published worldwide in 1863. The publication was a turning point for the abolitionist movement.

In a new interview, Fuqua said of Smith: "He was kind to everyone on the set - from the crew to extras. Will would go around and hug and shake hands – we had 300-something amenities, including military personnel like Marines.

"He's funny. He's fun. We had certain extras that were the dead bodies in the graves, and he would give them money for lying in that heat of over 100 degrees."

He continued speaking to Vanity Fair, stating: "I have nothing but amazing things to say about Will Smith, really genuinely. You can ask anybody that worked on the movie, and they'll tell you the same. The nicest person I've ever met in my life."

Smith's film 'Emancipation' is his first release since the actor hit presenter Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars face after the comedian joked about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith's baldness.

After the event transpired, Smith resigned from the Academy just before Smith received his Best Actor Oscar for King Richard. He also is not allowed to attend any events hosted by the organization for ten years.


Fuqua continued his interview, sharing how important it is that audiences focus on Smith's award-winning performance in the film and its message rather than the Oscars slap.


'Emancipation' will be hitting theaters on December 2nd and arriving on Apple TV just a week later on December 9th.


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