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Will Smith: I Wanted My Life to Be Like 'Dallas'

PARADE Modified: May 5, 2012 at 10:30 am •  Published: May 3, 2012
In person, Will Smith has the same larger-than-life presence that he does onscreen so it's no surprise that his childhood fantasies were pretty spectacular.

On Thursday, while promoting his latest film Men in Black 3 (which hits theaters May 25), Smith, 43, opened up about his childhood and the surprising inspirations behind his life and career.

"As a child, I watched Dallas and that was my vision for my life for as long as I could remember. How does that property have a name? Southfork!...Everyone worked the family business," said Smith. "And I was like 'I want that!' So I've been a mad scientist ever since trying to build Dallas through Star Wars and rap music."

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He added, "The joy [of life now] is watching an idea that I had at seven years old coming into fruition. I am actually building the family that I've always dreamed about...Building a family around the entertainment business. I love watching my kids and my family blossom from something that was a seed from a seven-year-old's mind."

Read on for how he and wife Jada Pinkett Smith keep their kids grounded and his friendly competition with his son:

On his love of franchises.
"The greatest experience I ever had in a movie theater was Star Wars. It shaped how I looked at the world. My imagination was so small before I went into that movie theater and it was an explosion. I just couldn't figure out how someone came up with that or make me feel like that. For me, there is nothing more valuable than how people feel in a movie theater about a movie. Even more than awards, which have never been that important to me. Those are about what a small group of people think. For me, it's about the maximum amount of people that can have an experience that will give them a little germ to think or talk about. That's all that is important to me in making movies."

His current approach to his career.
"The adjustment I am making in my career right now is about the clarity of what we are saying with the movie. There has to an idea, there has to be some message or statement. With Men in Black 3, we connected to the destructive nature of secrets. That idea, whether you get that or not, is what we are displaying. It's about how a relationship can get repaired and go to another level through the exposure of a secret."

"I love producing. I am loving doing that. I think that is my most natural space in the business. I just love producing or editing and that's where I thrive.

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