INTERVIEW Jaden Smith on the making of After Earth
Jaden Smith undertook an intense training schedule ahead of his starring role in the sci-fi action film After Earth . Over the course of four months, the young actor learned how to execute complex parkour moves, as well as hone his rock-climbing skills and undertake what he terms were “hardcore swimming and running” sessions. “The action in this movie was crazy,” begins Smith, 14. “I had to run everywhere and I had to train in all types of crazy things. By the time I was done, I had gained 20 pounds and I was four inches taller!”
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan , After Earth sees the teenage star once more alongside his father, the effervescent Will Smith, one of the highest-profile movie stars in Hollywood.
In After Earth the pair bring to life a strained relationship that unfolds in a world set 1,000 years in the future – after cataclysmic events have forced humanity’s migration from the planet. Jaden plays Kitai, who in the movie is struggling with life in the shadow of his father Cypher Raige (Will Smith), a renowned warrior and one of humanity’s leading lights. The son living under the glare of his famous father is a truth that Jaden understands. The film sees Kitai and Cypher crash-land their spacecraft on a highly hostile Earth, forcing Kitai to embark on a perilous journey in a bid to signal for help. As his journey quickens, Kitai faces uncharted ground, animals that have evolved with the intention of killing humans and an unstoppable alien that escaped during the crash.
“My dad… anything he makes, I know he really thinks about it,” continues Smith. “He is preparing a movie right now that he has been preparing for three years. And it probably won’t come out for another three years. I know if he is doing it, it’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be a good time and that was true with this movie, too.”
As well as playing as a father-son drama and a high-paced action spectacle, After Earth also carries a stark warning about mankind’s rapacious use of the planet’s resources, and the Smiths are keen to do their bit to promote environmentalism.
“In the household we recycle,” explains Smith jnr. “I compost all the food and put it in the ground to help the soil. And we just drink from glass bottles. We don’t use any plastic. We have solar power at our house. We try to do as much as we can.”