NEW YORK, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Will Smith says he learned his real-life father was terminally ill while he was working on Collateral Beauty, a film about a man paralyzed with grief over the death of his daughter.
Written and produced by Allen Loeb and directed by David Frankel, the contemporary, New York-set film follows Howard who writes letters to Time, Love and Death after he loses his young daughter, then is shocked when people claiming to be these entities show up and attempt to guide him through his heartbreak.
Asked at a recent press conference in Manhattan how the role impacted him, Smith revealed: "My father was diagnosed with cancer and he was given six weeks during the process of working on the film. So, it was a truly beautiful time for he and I -- as I was in Howard's mind -- studying and reading all of the different, religious bases for being able to find an answer for how we recover from this kind of loss.
"I was sharing that with my father through the experience -- everything from the Tibetan book of the dead to Elizabeth Kubler Ross. I read everything that you possibly do to deal with the inevitable pain of death. I was able to do it as Howard, but also be able to share and work on that with my father. So, the idea of that loss and that type of pain... This movie and this film and these ideas have changed me forever. It's the ultimate, human difficulty -- how do you deal with death and loss? And it was the perfect life-art confluence. ... For me, I hope that people can feel the depth and power of what's going in the film."
Smith's ex-wife, Sheree Fletcher, announced on social media last month that Smith's father, Willard Carroll Smith Sr., had died.