Will Smith recently shared that at the beginning of his career he borrowed $10,000 from a drug dealer when he became broke after failing to pay his tax debt in the early 1990s.
During a Thursday appearance at the Savoy Theatre in London to promote his autobiography, “Will,” Smith talked to the actor Idris Elba about his financial problems after becoming famous.
“I’m not sure what the government is like with taxes in the UK, but in the US they take it seriously,” Smith told the audience, according to a video captured by Metro.
“So Uncle Sam wanted his money,” he continued, adding: “I didn’t forget — I just didn’t pay.”
“I had to sell everything, and I knew whatever my new life was going to be I could feel it was going to be in Los Angeles,” he said.
“So I borrowed $10,000 from a friend of mine who was a purveyor of neighborhood pharmaceuticals,” he continued as the audience laughed.
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“Was his name Stringer Bell?” Elba responded, mentioning the character he played on HBO’s “The Wire.”
The “King Richard” star said he almost declared bankruptcy before ultimately moving to Los Angeles and winning the lead role on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
According to “Will Smith: A Biography,” the IRS garnished 70% of his salary over the first three seasons of the show.
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Smith ended the night by performing a medley of his hits alongside his frequent collaborator Jazzy Jeff, including “Brand New Funk,” “Switch,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and “Summertime.”
On November 8, Smith embarked on a five-date book tour to promote his memoir, beginning in his hometown of Philadelphia and making stops in Brooklyn, New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; and London.
Representatives for Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Will” was released November 9.