ET's Nischelle Turner caught up with the 51-year-old actor, and Gemini Mandirector Ang Lee, at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco on Wednesday, where Smith touched on seeing himself as a 23-year-old in his upcoming movie, and what he'd love to ask his younger self.
"Will in his twenties wasn't listening to nothing that nobody had to say, so I wouldn't tell his dumbass nothing," he said with a laugh. "But there were certain qualities that I had in my twenties that I have been trying to recover in the last couple of years."
"So my birthday last year, I did bungee jumping out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon," he explained. "And even a part of that foolishness was trying to get rid of the fear that I had taken on as I become more successful. I didn't become more brave. I became more fearful as I got older."
"So young Will was wildly courageous to the level of foolishness," Smith continues. "But I would want to ask my younger self about the source of that courage because I've actually lost touch with that source. I have to manipulate it a little bit more than I used to."
Gemini Man follows Smith as Henry Brogan, an elite assassin who becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his surprise, he soon learns that the man who is trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.
"That was crazy," Smith said of seeing the younger version of himself on screen for the first time. "We had to shoot all of this stuff ahead of time and it was eight months before I got to see an image. And it's really weird when you see yourself talking to yourself… The first shot I saw is one of the best shots in the movie, the one where the old Will flips the young Will and then puts the flashlight on his face and it's the first time we see him, and it's just one of those shots that's exquisitely done."
While Will plays his younger version, he explained that he wasn't "de-aged" like other actors have been in other movies. "It's a [one] hundred percent digital character and that's the thing that I keep repeating to people, it's not me de-aged," he explained. "It's a 100 percent digital character. They created that character totally in the computer. It's essentially a digital avatar that I put the things on and I'm working an avatar so the process of it was a difficult process because you don't really see anything, but when I first saw it...blown away."
It took nearly 20 years to bring Gemini Man to life, as it was all about finding the right technology to deliver the best story possible. In 2017, the Life of Pi director was hired to helm the film.
"Everybody had a feeling that the technology [was] within reach," Lee told ET, adding that they all "jumped in" and began the process. From there, they created a digital version of Smith, with an avatar that could be performed by anyone.
As far as how the technology will change the world of cinema, Lee says he hopes "it's the beginning of a digital era. There's [many] other possibilities."
"Instead of physically pretending something to tell a story, I think it's going to help us go all kinds of places. I think it's very valuable too, [but] it's still relatively new to us. I think there's a lot of potential right now. It's more difficult," he said, before jokingly adding, "It's a lot more expensive than Will Smith."
Gemini Man hits theaters on Oct. 11. Watch the trailer below.