Will Smith, Martin Lawrence reflect on 30 years of friendship, evolution of 'Bad Boys'

The Hollywood stars were in Dubai for the World Premiere of their upcoming film 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die'


Husain Rizvi

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sun 26 May 2024, 6:12 PM

Back in 2003, Will Smith had said in an interview that he struggled to use foul words in films. There's a funny story behind that which we will get back to later. The film in question was Bad Boys 2.

The premise revolves around two Miami black cop buddies Mike Lowrey (Smith) and Marcus Burnet (Martin Lawrence) who take down bad guys and while they're at it, profane words are in play. And people love that... the relationship between two buddies in the film is portrayed exactly like how it is between two best friends in real life.

That bond has only tightened over the years - from the first-ever Bad Boys film in 1995, to 2020's Bad Boys For Life - and now, more than ever, as Bad Boys: Ride or Die, helmed by co-directors Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi, nears its release date.

Smith and Lawrence, along with the directors were recently in Dubai for the film's World Premiere. That is when we caught up with the Hollywood stars (twice, once during a roundtable chat, and the other at the red carpet premiere on May 22 at Coca-Cola Arena) and talked only about the film, for obvious reasons.

'Parallel growth'

There's a parallel growth, Smith tells City Times during the roundtable chat, between themselves and their characters in the film which has now run across three decades. What's the most memorable thing about it, we asked. "To watch that growth and expansion, you don't realise it when you're 25, but when you look up one day and think you've known someone for 30 years - it is beautiful, witnessing each other's lives, the experience and everything that comes with it," said Smith.

Lawrence adds: "Just working with this guy (Smith). Just to see his growth and how far he has come. That's been a pleasure for me, just having to do these movies with him. I couldn't have a better partner."

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in a still from 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die'
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith in a still from 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die'

The bond between the two is and has always been a centre of all the films in the Bad Boys franchise. And if a fifth instalment were to come, and that may as well be set in Dubai, the relationship between the two will always remain the same. "Part of what makes Bad Boys work as a franchise is the concept of 'ride or die,' having somebody who's going to be there no matter what, that one lifelong friend who you can argue with but they're still going to show up when something goes down," Smith said.

Lawrence only had one thing to add: "I concur."

From the looks of it, Bad Boys: Ride or Die is filled with action. And shooting for such a film can be physically demanding with several stunts and intense action scenes in play. Since Smith (55) and Lawrence (59) are no longer in their 20s or 30s as they were in the first two films, we had to ask their experience of shooting this film at this age in their respective careers.

"Other than lower back pain, it was pretty good," Smith joked, with Lawrence adding, "I had to get in shape a little earlier (than usual) for this film."

Why Smith struggled to use foul words

Coming back to Smith's struggle with using foul words, there's an interesting story which the actor tells us. But before he does, he says, "I'm very, very comfortable cursing now," and the two, Smith and Lawrence, burst out with laughter.

"When I started rapping, my grandmother found my rap book," Smith narrated. "She never said anything to me but she wrote in my rap book, 'Dear Will, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like this to express themselves. Please show the world that you're as smart as we think you are. Love, GG.' So I never put any curses in my rap music, but I'm grown now. A little cuss here and there never hurt nobody."

Adil El Arbi, Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and Bilall Fallah at the World Premiere of 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die' in Dubai
Adil El Arbi, Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and Bilall Fallah at the World Premiere of 'Bad Boys: Ride or Die' in Dubai

Smith and Lawrence's day out in Dubai

The World Premiere of Bad Boys in Dubai is gigantic for us," said Smith. "It is followed by the first premiere ever of a Hollywood film in Riyadh. So starting in Dubai and Riyadh, the film's global launch in the Middle East is gigantic for us. We are honoured and ecstatic to be here."

Lawrence adds: "The hospitality you show out here in Dubai is unmatched."

We couldn't end the conversation without asking them who's their real-life 'Ride or Die'.

"I have been blessed that there has never been a time in my life that I looked to my side and didn't have somebody there who believed in me," Smith said. "All the way from growing up in Philly (Philadelphia), meeting Jazzy Jeff, starring in Fresh Prince of Bel Air, to having Alfonso, Jada (Pinkett Smith) and Marty Mar (Lawrence), so I've been blessed to have a lot of people that are my 'Ride or Die.'"

For Lawrence, it is his brothers, bestfriends, and of course, Smith.


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