Will Smith did all he could to avoid making his new film Concussion, due to his personal connection to football.
The Ali actor stars in the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who was the first person to delve into the repercussions of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football players.
Smith has already received early acclaim for his portrayal of the California-based doctor, but he admits he was very reluctant to take the part, because he has such a passion for the sport.
He tells Entertainment Tonight, "I did everything I could do to not make this movie. I'm from Philly (Philadelphia)," referring to his love of the Philadelphia Eagles. "And I'm a football dad."
Speaking of his oldest son, Willard 'Trey' Smith III, the actor explained, "As a parent, my son played football. I loved it. I watched him. I had no idea of the long term potential negative impact of repetitive head trauma."
But once Smith dug deeper into the story and realized it was less about football and more about the human condition, he signed up for the project immediately.
"For me, at that point it became a story about a man trying to deliver the truth. It's not a story about football."
Concussion opens in cinemas on Christmas Day (15).