Will by Will Smith: Extraordinary story of Hollywood’s Fresh Prince

Book review: Actor’s self-help memoir could make Napoleon feel unmotivated

If the bookies are right, Will Smith is set to walk away with this year’s best actor Oscar for his performance  King Richard. Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

If the bookies are right, Will Smith is set to walk away with this year’s best actor Oscar for his performance King Richard. Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Will Smith is not the first person with that forename to propel an unaccompanied synonym for resolve onto the cover of his memoir. It is only two years since Will Self released his own Will, but, with respect to that loquacious author, the former Fresh Prince has the edge on fanatical determination.

“I would be the golden child,” he explains early on. “It was going to be the performance of a lifetime. And over the next forty years, I would never break character. Not Once.” The drive sustains him from childhood in middle-class Philadelphia to hip-hop success to a brief career slump and on to life as the biggest movie star on the planet. Twenty pages of this book could make Napoleon feel unmotivated.

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