Why Hollywood can't stand Will and Jada Pinkett Smith

Being a Hollywood super couple is no walk in the park—double the power usually means double the attention in Tinseltown. Will Smith and his outspoken other half, Jada Pinkett Smith, have gotten used to that since marrying in 1997, but that doesn't mean they always know how to handle the heat of the spotlight. A series of public scandals combined with a period of professional decline has arguably dropped their stock significantly in Hollywood. It seems the entertainment community they were once very much a vital part of has started to turn its back on them. This is why Hollywood can't stand Will and Jada anymore.

​Their Oscar boycott

When Will didn't nab a best actor nomination for 2015's Concussion, despite the Oscar buzz that surrounded the biographical football drama, a chain of events was set in motion that didn't play out well for the Smiths.

According to the Daily Mail, Will was on a flight to Thailand when Jada posted a video to her Facebook page announcing her intention to boycott the Academy Awards due to a lack of diversity among the nominations. An unsuspecting Will was forced to field questions from reporters at the airport. In the end, he took the same stance as his wife, fueling the Academy's #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Director Spike Lee rallied to the cause, but other prominent African American entertainers spoke out against the boycott and, directly or indirectly, against the Smiths. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx told his peers at the American Black Film Festival Awards that they needed to "#actbetter" if they expected to win awards. Smith's former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air castmate Janet Hubert criticized Jada (via Us Weekly) for encouraging other black actors to alienate themselves in Hollywood. Even Oscar host Chris Rock took a swipe at Jada in his opening monologue, quipping  (via Variety) that "Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited."

They think way too highly of themselves

When the Los Angeles Times caught up with Hubert to ask her to clarify her criticism of Jada and Will (whom she had already accused of screwing over the Fresh Prince cast years earlier in contract talks), Hubert said they simply needed to get over themselves. "You ain't all that," she said. "You're not kings and queens. You're not royalty. You're simply entertainers."

But that's not how the Smiths see it, especially Will. In 2007, the Men in Black star told the Daily Mail that his ambition was to be the first black president in U.S. history, something which Barack Obama was himself hoping to achieve at the time. "I'm going to be President of the United States," Will said, despite having no experience of public office. "I always wanted to be the first black president but Barack Obama stole my idea. That's OK with me. Barack can go first and then I'll take my turn."

Smith restarted the political conversation in 2015, just as Donald Trump's election campaign started to gather steam. "If people keep saying all the crazy kinds of stuff they've been saying on the news lately about walls and Muslims, they're going to force me into the political arena," Smith told CBS News (via Metro). "I mean, I gotta be the president. Come on! What else would I run for?"

Their son sounds like an egomaniac

Jaden Smith's outlandish behavior certainly isn't helping with his mom and dad's reputation in Hollywood circles. Despite a hit-and-miss record in his short career as an actor, the home-schooled young man has already irked movie makers and fans alike by declaring himself the future of filmmaking in one of his many bizarre Tweets. Jaden's online output has been both a source of entertainment and a cause for concern, with his cryptic comments about the world around him bordering on delusional at times: "There Is No Nutrients In Our Food Anymore Or In Our Soil OR IN OUR WATER," is a perfect example.

Tweets are one thing, but when given the chance to exceed 140 characters, Jaden really lets loose. In an interview with GQ magazine, the eldest of the two Smith children revealed that he had started an initiative called Mystery School, inspired by the secretive work of ancient scholars. "Plato, Pythagoras, all these students had mystery schools. And what they learned in there was sacred... Like, you couldn't say the word 'dodecahedron,' which is just a shape, outside of one of the mystery schools or they would, like, kill you or whatever. Because it was such a sacred shape."

In the same interview, he referred to himself as a "scientist" and claimed that all of his past antics had been part of a large-scale social experiment (though it seems like the only thing he is truly experimenting with is the longevity of his parents' careers.) Even Will admitted (via Vanity Fair) that he and Jada "might have gone too far" with their lenient approach to parenting, but then backtracked and called Jaden's behavior "100 percent fearless."

Their daughter's chatter has raised eyebrows too

If you thought Jaden was the um, most creative, member of the Smith household, then you've yet to meet Willow. Will and Jada's daughter is two years younger than her brother but outdoes even him when it comes to wacky comments and uncomfortable interviews. During a Q&A with The New York Times magazine T, Willow revealed (in all seriousness) that she had the ability to manipulate time. "I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that's how I know it doesn't exist."

Willow told the style mag that she wrote her own novels because there aren't any existing books that she likes. Then, when the bemused interviewer tried to get back on track with a question about which themes she felt recurred in her music, Willow answered, "the feeling of being like, this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made."

Either there is a whole other philosophical level to her track "Whip My Hair" that the world has been completely missing, or this young lady is getting way too into the "quantum physics" she claimed to be reading at the time. Jaden, who was also present, admitted to a bit of light reading himself—just some ancient texts.

The kids freaked out Sony

If you're thinking the Smith kids and their erratic behavior has no bearing on Will and Jada's standing in Hollywood, a leaked email exchange between Sony executives (via Us Weekly) proves otherwise. Having read the T magazine profile on Jaden and Willow, TriStar Chairman Tom Rothman emailed a link to the interview to another bigwig along with the message "1. Read this, 2. they r home schooled: don't let this family date your movies!!!"

Rothman had previously worked with Will on sci-fi blockbusters Independence Day and I, Robot, but that didn't stop him from ridiculing the actor's kids. Will shrugged off the comments and absolved the loose-lipped exec of blame. "Everybody disses my kids," he said. "To me, that's just part of the business. And somebody's email is private, you know? So I would never hold anybody responsible for something they said in a private email. I shouldn't even know about it."

Child Protective Services investigated the family

Bigwigs at Sony aren't the only ones to question Will and Jada's parenting. Things got very real for the family in 2014 when a picture of their daughter in bed with a shirtless 20-year-old man sparked a police investigation. According to Radar Online, the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services looked into the snap of the then 13-year-old Willow, which was initially taken and posted online by actor Moises Arias but removed soon after.

"Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have been extremely cooperative with officials," a source told Radar. "Of course, they aren't happy that their parenting skills are under scrutiny, but they understand. Social workers will also be talking separately with Willow, and they also want to talk to the young man in the picture with her as well."

Jada eventually broke her silence on the matter when approached by press at the airport in Los Angeles. "Here's the deal: there was nothing sexual about that picture or that situation," Jada told paps as she left the airport (via E! News). "You guys are projecting your trash onto it, and you're acting like covert pedophiles, and that's not cool."

Seven Pounds

Will's career hit its first major speed bump with the release of Seven Pounds in 2008. The drama about a man who tries to correct his life after he causes a car crash that kills seven people seemed like one of those contemporary projects that could land Will an Oscar nomination, a la The Pursuit of Happyness (2006). In reality, the film flopped with critics, earning only a 26 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its box office returns, while not terrible, weren't great, prompting a rare moment in Will's career in which bad reviews and cruddy word of mouth outweighed his mega-watt star power.

After Earth

Although he bounced back with the release of MIB 3 (2012), Will faced another flop in 2013 with M. Night Shyamalan's sci-fi epic After Earth. The film, in which he starred opposite son Jaden, was an unequivocal disaster, earning Will some of the worst reviews of his career and two Razzie Awards. Making matters worse was the film's performance at the box office. According to Box Office MojoAfter Earth grossed just $60 million domestically off a staggering $130 million budget.

Even Will admitted After Earth dealt him a serious blow "because my son was involved in After Earth and I led him into it," he told Esquire in 2015. "That was excruciating." He continued, "What I learned from that failure is how you win. I got reinvigorated after the failure of After Earth. I stopped working for a year and a half. I had to dive into why it was so important for me to have number-one movies. And I never would have looked at myself in that way. I was a guy who, when I was fifteen my girlfriend cheated on me, and I decided that if I was number one, no woman would ever cheat on me. All I have to do is make sure that no one's ever better than me and I'll have the love that my heart yearns for. And I never released that and moved into a mature way of looking at the world and my artistry and love until the failure of After Earth, when I had to accept that it's not a good source of creation."

Focus

Shortly after his interview with Esquire, Will managed to climb back to the top of the box office with the release of Focus (2015), but even that success proved fleeting. The film's opening weekend performance was described as "muted" by The Hollywood Reporter and marked one of his lowest-grossing openers ever. The movie limped to a modest $53.9 million total by the end of its run. Sure, that wasn't exactly terrible, but compared to some of Will's past hits, it wasn't terrific, especially when you factor in the film's mediocre reviews.

Suicide Squad

Considering the amount of pre-release hype it created, Suicide Squad (2016) positioned itself to become the second coming of The Dark Knight (2008), complete with a new take on The Joker by Jared Leto. And yet, even though the film grossed more than $325 million at the box office, the end result still felt disappointing. Much of that likely had to do with the film's scathing reviews, not to mention the low expectations set by Warner Bros. other big superhero release that summer, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Of course, this being Hollywood, not even terrible reviews could pull the plug on plans for the film's sequel, which is currently on track to hit theaters in 2019. Does anybody actually want to see it, and even if they do, will it help Will's career?

Collateral Beauty

Will's disappointing 2016 closed on a particularly dismal note courtesy of the holiday release of Collateral Beauty. Although the film boasted a prestigious cast that included Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet, it couldn't escape the fate of critics, many of whom gave it a real thrashing. Audiences didn't show up, either. The film's mediocre opening weekend returns suddenly made Seven Pounds look like a Christmas miracle.

Annie

The work Will and Jada have done behind the camera hasn't yielded stellar results, either. Take Annie, the much-anticipated remake of the beloved Broadway musical, for example. Production on the film was stalled when Will and Jada's daughter, Willow, dropped out of the lead role. (She was later replaced by Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis.) The final product failed to hit the $100 million mark at the box office, an essential milestone for a family movie released over the holidays. Most critics thought it stunk. In the end, for a family-friendly musical starring a young black actress, Annie felt like a missed opportunity and a big letdown.

Jada isn't in demand

After a promising breakout performance as Maureen in 1997's Scream 2, Jada's career looked to be heading in the right direction. The momentum stalled the following year when she nabbed the lead role in Woo, a film Variety described as a "graceless and gratingly unfunny comedy that brings out the worst in just about everybody involved." In the years that followed, Jada landed supporting roles in a few well-received films, but her record with critics has been spotty at best.

Despite her best efforts, studios have not been keen to cast her as a leading lady. At the time of this writing, her most successful role is arguably the one where she is heard but not seen—voicing hippopotamus Gloria in the animated Madagascar franchise. Lucky for Jada, Madagascar 4 is due out in 2018, but not much else has been coming her way. She was relegated to a supporting role in 2016's Bad Moms, and the only meaty role of any kind she's been able to sink her teeth into recently has been on television playing Fish Mooney in Fox's DC crime drama Gotham (2014-).

How they can turn it around

Despite plenty of professional misses, Will and Jada have done enough great work over the last two decades that we're confident predicting they'll be steadily employed until the day they decide to retire.

So, how do they make it back to the top? In Will's case, he already appears to be making decisions that will correct some of his recent mistakes. For starters, he'll appear in the police thriller Bright in December 2017. The film will be released on Netflix, which immediately alleviates the pressure of box office returns. Even if that film flops, he's also set to play the Genie in Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin (2019), which, if Beauty and the Beast (2017) was any indication, is guaranteed to make a huge amount of money.

As for Jada, she might want to consider sticking to the small screen. In addition to Gotham, she managed to carve three seasons out of the TNT drama HawthoRNe (2009-11). Finding the right role with the right showrunner (paging Shonda Rimes!) could put Jada in the spotlight on a consistent basis. If television doesn't work out, 2017 proved Jada may be able to draw a crowd on the big screen. Girls Trip earned more than $115 million at the box office, and returns like that are sure to guarantee a sequel and keep Jada in the conversation.