News of the reboot of the post-apocalyptic action thriller blockbuster – which grossed more $585 million back in 2007 – broke earlier this year when I Am Legend writer Avika Goldsman re-teamed with Warner Bros. with a fresh first-look deal.
Smith told an In Conversation at Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival on Saturday evening that he was due to have a call with Jordan the next day.
“I have a call with Michael B. Jordan tomorrow. We’re really close. I am probably giving up too much information…the script just came in,” he said.
Smith also explained how the production planned to get around the fact his character, U.S. army virologist Robert Neville, died in the original film by reverting to an alternate ending which appeared in a special DVD edition released in 2008.
“We’re going with the mythology of the DVD version where my character lives and I can’t tell you anymore,” he said.
Smith was talking to a young, local crowd of fans and aspiring filmmakers at the Red Sea event, which is one of his first public speaking engagements since his fall from grace in 2022 after he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards.
The actor, producer and rapper never broached the incident or subsequent fallout directly in the conversation but appeared to allude to his experiences of the past 18 months in some of his answers.
Philosophizing about fame, Smith said he had learned to stop looking for applause or validation as a guide to whether he was doing the right thing.
“Fame is a unique monster and I’ve had to be really careful… you can’t get excited when everybody is saying good things about you. The more you take when people are saying good things about you, the more hurt you’re going to be when people are saying bad things about you,” he said.
“What I’ve experienced in my adversities of the last couple of years is that I have to be clear about who I am and what I am attempting to do in the world, and I can’t need others to applaud for me to stay focused on my mission.”
Beyond I Am Legend 2, Smith has more than a dozen projects at various stages including Bad Boys 4, which is in post-production.
Smith revealed, however, that he holds personal ambitions to transfer his experience and know-how to a new generation of filmmakers.
“Right now, the thing I’m interested in is the transfer of knowledge. I really want to teach. I really want to teach filmmaking. I want to work with people in big movies,” he said.
:What is exciting to me about Saudi is that it’s a brand-new film community. It’s brand-new filmmakers. There’s a style of global storytelling… I’ve travelled the world and I understand the tiny little adjustments that make things global.”
Smith’s presence at the Red Sea Film Festival this year was a surprise with his attendance announced just hours before the opening red carpet.
He is among a raft of A-list Hollywood talents to have touched down at the third edition of the festival, which is a one pole of Saudi Arabia’s ambition to be come the biggest film and TV hub in the MENA region.
Smith is understood to be combining his festival jaunt with a recce of Saudi Arabia’s production facilities, with Deadline hearing that he will heading to the country’s burgeoning film and TV hub of Neom in the north of the country in the coming days.
The Red Sea Film Festival runs to December 9. Further stars due to speak in the In Conversation line-up include Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry and Bollywood Alia Bhatt.