How Will Smith helped LL Cool J with his acting
(Credit: Alamy)

Old School Archives

How Will Smith helped LL Cool J with his acting

LL Cool J was one of the 1980s’ most exciting and skilful MCs. Born and raised in Queens, the lyricist (real name James Smith) was initially part of an underground trio known as the Extravagant Three. However, after sending his demo to Def Jam, he quickly got noticed by Rick Rubin and began to enter the mainstream with the help of Rubin and Russell Simmons behind him.

Despite being a rapper at heart, like many musicians, including Method Man, Ice Cube and 50 Cent, as LL Cool J’s relevance began to wane in the 2000s, he turned to acting and the world of television. Smith has appeared in multiple shows, such as NCIS: Los Angeles and the sitcom In The House.

However, when he first began his journey as an actor, he wasn’t at the level that he is now and had to take some advice. One well-known celebrity who helped Smith in his career was the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air star Will Smith. 

In an interview with the LA Times, Smith recalled his desires when he first started acting, disclosing, “I wanted to take [acting roles] seriously and not just be a celebrity stunt casting. I didn’t want [people to think] they hired a rapper who can put butts in the seats. That is part of it, but that’s the same reason that they pay the actors. I wanted to be able to deliver in whatever I did.”

When he first stepped into Hollywood, LL and Will Smith regularly spoke and the latter guided LL. Speaking with MTV News, the ‘Summertime’ rapper explained, “LL and I have been talking a lot, And I keep saying, ‘Be James Todd Smith in the movies, don’t be LL Cool J in the movies.’ Just a complete separate persona.”

He continued, “He’s kinda, he’s kinda inching there. He doesn’t want to give up the credibility with the music cause the music is the first love. But I keep saying, just be a completely different person [in those roles].” 

This is not the only story of a rapper helping a fellow rhymer get on the ladder of Hollywood. Ice Cube also helped Snoop Dogg land roles by explaining you should avoid accepting every character offered to you. You can hear LL speaking about his acting journey in the video below.