Will Smith was not chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool when he signed on as the lead in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The ’90s show‘s star was actually resting on some pretty serious IRS debt from his career as a rapper alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff. In a 2018 episode of YouTube’s Storytime, the actor admitted that he’d spent all of his money on exorbitant purchases like expensive cars and fancy clothes after the duo’s album, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, went triple platinum and earned a Grammy.
Unfortunately, Smith neglected to pay his taxes at the time and owed the IRS a whopping $2.8 million. However, his follow-up effort didn’t really help bolster his meager bank account. “We released our next album and it was like a flop. It was a tragedy. It went like double plastic,” the actor-rapper said. “I had spent most of my money, like all of — I spent all my money. And I didn’t forget, but I didn’t pay the IRS.”
Fortunately, a random opportunity fell into Smith’s lap when he met Fresh Prince producer Benny Medina while hanging out on the set of The Arsenio Hall Show, and later had an impromptu audition during a party at Quincy Jones’ house. Smith, of course, landed the lead, but the IRS took 70% of his Fresh Prince paycheck for the next three years.