Lawrence and Smith were in their 20s when Lawrence helped hire Smith for Bad Boys on his sister Rae's advice. Smith was starring on the NBC sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air at the time.
"My sister Rae, she brought Will to my attention. She was like, 'You should do the movie with Will,'" Lawrence recalled. "I called Will and we set up a dinner, and Will came to my house. Five minutes after talking to Will, he got the job."
"It was one of the best things I've done, and now Will is like the franchise. You can't do it without him," he added.
Lawrence and Smith play Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey in Bad Boys and the 2003 sequel Bad Boys II. The pair will return in the new sequel Bad Boys for Life.
Lawrence and Smith said reconnecting on the Bad Boys for Life set was a "perfect" experience. Smith said he initially attempted to do his own stunts before turning the action over to a younger stuntman.
"I gave it a shot," he said. "Literally, I probably got four days into shooting and I was like, 'We going to let the young boy do that.'"
Bad Boys for Life is directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and opens in theaters Jan. 17. Smith shared a poster for the film on Instagram in November.