It’s been 20 years since Will Smith made Ray-Ban sunglasses and black suits look good in Men in Black, the sci-fi action film about secret agents who track and supervise extraterrestrial lifeforms on Earth.
“July 4th weekend. That’s my weekend,” Smith told ET in 1997 on the set of the music video for the film’s theme song, “Men in Black.” The film’s release was still a couple of months away, but Smith had the fullest confidence that the comic book adaptation would be a success. After all, the actor did lead the ensemble fight against aliens in Independence Day, which made over $817 million worldwide the year before.
But for all the chart-topping success, Smith was determined to settle some personal business. Then-fiancée Jada Pinkett apparently didn’t believe the Fresh Prince could bust a move and the video would be certified proof that he had the goods. “No one ever truly knows everything about you, you know? You can know someone your whole life. Your parents don't really know everything about you,” Smith said a few months later while promoting the film’s release. “So, that's just a little something I had to toss at Ms. Pinkett, so she could just see what the real flavor was. What the real Big Willy is all about.”
As seen in the video, Smith shows an escaped alien (“Mikey,” who, sadly, does not end up transforming into Anjelica Huston) a few dance steps, preventing him from wreaking havoc in a MIB lab. He lists each dance move in the lyrics, seemingly to clarify them for Mikey. But seen another way, maybe he’s speaking directly to Jada, as if pleading, “Look at the bouncing! Look at the sliding! I’m executing them perfectly!”
“What's incredible is that in the last two days [on set] he learned the whole backend of this routine,” Caruso said during the making of the video, revealing that Smith wanted to learn more of the dance routine than initially planned. “He wanted to learn the backend, which is a much more complicated step.”
In July, at the premiere of Men in Black, ET asked Pinkett what she thought of Smith’s moves. “They had a really good editor,” she deadpanned.