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 ( The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Last Airbender ), After Earth sees the teenage star once more alongside his father, the effervescent Will Smith, one of the highest-profile movie stars in Hollywood.
The two appeared together in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness while Smith Sr. also oversaw his son’s starring role in the 2010 hit The Karate Kid , where he worked as a producer.
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.
Smith says he feels more comfortable on screen with each passing film. “I feel after The Pursuit of Happyness I could call myself an actor,” he says of his debut feature, “because the performance that I did in that movie was very honest.”