Watch: Hollywood star Will Smith scales Dubai's Burj Khalifa for new YouTube reality series

Fly-on-the-wall show follows the actor to the UAE in debut episodes


David Light

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Published: Wed 10 Nov 2021, 3:49 PM

What does it take to become one of the world’s biggest movie stars? Scratch that, what does it take to become one of the globe’s most bankable Oscar-nominated actors, a hit TV producer and Grammy award-winning recording artist? If one person in Hollywood has the answer it should be Men In Black’s (1997) Will Smith. From the age of 17 the now 53-year-old has ticked off more showbiz milestones than most performers see in a lifetime. From underground hip-hop with compadre DJ Jazzy Jeff in the mid-’80s, to breaking out on the small screen in NBC’s The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (1990-1996), to Bad Boys (1995) and the soon to be released King Richard (2021), the list of credits is seemingly endless. A more enviable career from one of the strongest personalities in entertainment we could not imagine.

In somewhat of a departure from type, however, Smith’s latest venture: YouTube documentary series Best Shape Of My Life, aims to reveal the man behind the success. And judging from the first two episodes to air so far, the at times brutal warts-and-all insight could be one of the star’s greatest triumphs to date.

Ostensibly structured around Smith writing the final chapters of his autobiography, Will, which came out November 9 and following a challenge to drop 20lbs of “Covid weight” gained during the pandemic in 140 days, the weekly programmes delve deep into the artist’s personal history: questioning his motivations, work ethic and ambitions. Arguably the most moving scenes arise when Smith recalls his military-trained father: a man for whom authority was paramount. Failure to complete the tasks he set about the house was simply not tolerated. Matter-of-fact anecdotes to which Smith attributes his self-discipline are interspersed with the first-time author reading excerpts from his book to the people mentioned in the stories therein. These include his three children who can only respond with tears to their dad’s honesty.

For the local viewership, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Best Shape Of My Life comes in the second installment where, after an unsatisfactory start to his weight loss experiment in LA, Smith boldly proclaims: “we’re going to Dubai.” The opening visuals of the city, gleaming in the morning sun, are voiced-over by the frequent visitor saying: “Dubai fits my personality. It just speaks to how I see the world and how I see life. If you’re going to build a building are you not going to try to build the Burj Khalifa?”

The performer then reasons, as a result of the time difference with California, the UAE provides ample sanctuary from his regular hectic day-to-day schedule.

“When they’re awake, I’m asleep and when they’re asleep I’m awake. It’s perfect. It’s like no contact, no phone calls,” he said about his break from Tinsel Town.

Smith takes up residence at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex (NAS) – a dedicated facility often home to professional teams in need of warm-weather training - where he demands no distractions in order to maximise his health gains to aid powering through penning the last of the biog. A quick visit to the planet’s tallest manmade structure, though, is planned as a fitness test. Walking up the Burj Khalifa’s 160 floors takes the performer an impressive 51 minutes.


Yet, out of breath, Smith tells the camera the absolute pinnacle remains another climb away. He is then handed safety gear and a camera and pointed to the top of the tower’s spire before the preview for next week’s episode rolls where both he and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, sat at NAS, talk about his undertaking.

“So you plan on getting in the best shape of your life?” she says with an incredulous wince and shake of the head. “Like, even better than I, Robot?”

Tune in on YouTube to see how Smith fares.

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