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THE MOVIE: Seven Pounds

Will Smith • Rosario Dawson • Woody Harrelson
DIRECTOR: Gabriele Muccino

Ben Thomas (Smith) is a man with a haunting secret. He has seven names of people that have only one thing in common, each has reached a turning point and unknowingly is in dire need of help, Ben has carefully chosen each to be part of his plan of redemption. But in an unexpected twist, one of them, Emily Posa (Dawson), a lively cardiac patient, grows close to him and turns his view of the world inside out.

U.S. RELEASE: December 19 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13


Will Smith“I was attracted to Seven Pounds not because there was a fantastic one-liner that I could sell around the world very easily. I was attracted to Seven Pounds because there were ideas, there were emotions. There were parts of this character that I was hiding myself from. I took the film almost as a self-examination, a self-exploration, and Jada (his wife) said, ‘It’s funny how you’re rejecting the character. You are Ben. The reason you’re so nice, and the reason you fight so hard to be up tone, is because you’re at war with that guy inside of you.’ I was like damn deep lady! The projects I was choosing, everything had to be okay in the end or it emotionally hurt me. So now my sensibilities are becoming slightly less delicate, and I may be able to venture out a little bit more into the world of emotional and artistic ambiguity in a way that it strikes me as more authentic.”

ROSARIO DAWSON on working with Will:
Will Smith“Will’s a complete jerk. He’s one of these guys who is only on for his side of the camera. Once it goes on me, there’s nothing. [She roars with laughter] No! He’s amazing. We had five weeks of rehearsal which actually did not feel like enough time when we were going through it. The chemistry between these two characters is so important and we worked through the entire script from beginning to end and changed a lot of things. These are scary things personally. It’s not like we’re fighting aliens, this is real, we’re talking about life and death. Having to deal with thinking about your own mortality was incredible. We really fell in love with these characters, but Will towards the end of the shoot hated Ben, and ultimately that was because Ben was fighting being who he was as well. I was very grateful to be working with someone as committed and as great of an actor as Will is.”

“I had an epiphany after working on Seven Pounds. I realized that I was looking at my life and I was looking at myself and my future too much around these movies. And after Seven Pounds I just had this huge epiphany of how much more I want to be, how much more I want to do, and the idea of living in service to humanity versus living in service to the commerce of my movies. And that explosion just totally washed away that scary uncomfortable feeling. However people look at me, as a movie star or not, I want to be remembered as a man who cared about people and dedicated his life to making the world better, so with that I went from thinking of myself in this high place to damn I’ve got so much to do. I need to get to work. And that’s so much better a place for me emotionally.”

DAWSON on doing the love scene with Smith:
Will Smith and Rosario Dawson“It was really funny. Will is shockingly shy about intimacy with strangers I guess. It was really unbelievable how much he pushed our kissing scenes for weeks to the point to where I started getting really nervous about my breath. It was such a big deal, talking about having Jada there. It was getting awkward at a certain point and I was going, ‘I can’t believe that you’re shy and you’re nervous.’”

“With love [scenes], my grandmother and mother were really firm about how men are supposed to treat women. So for me my worst nightmare is for an actress to come on my set and feel like I’m taking this as an opportunity to get a little quickie feel, some legal cheating going on. I just need women to be comfortable around me. Jada said, ‘Listen, I know you’re uncomfortable but you better not embarrass me.’ She was like, ‘When you do that love scene you better show them what you’re working with.’”

DAWSON on what she hopes the audience takes away from the film:
“I hope for them to have compassion for themselves; that’s the thing I was so moved by. You can be so caught up in yourself and you can forget the people around you and the choices that you have in front of you. When people walk out of the theatre, I hope they really look at each other and open the door for each other. I think we really need to have a sense of community around us that we haven’t had for a really long time.”

“I’ve been exploring the idea of trauma and the relationship between trauma and continuing life. So with I Am Legend, Hancock, and now Seven Pounds, I’m starting the character on trauma. And then I was asking the question, ‘What’s the difference between someone who falls into depression and someone like Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Gandhi or Mother Theresa?’ They just keep going in the face of the ultimate weight of Humanity and life. And the thing that I discovered on Seven Pounds is its purpose. When you have a purpose, when you wake up and you’ve dedicated your life to something beyond yourself, all is bearable. And it just exploded in my mind with this movie and with this character, and if there’s been a movie in my career that I would say changed my life it’s Seven Pounds.

Rosario Dawson and Will Smith

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #701, December 2008 cover

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