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About The Characters
In Seven Pounds, Will Smith plays a man in a search of seven lost souls – and a coming-to-terms with himself. Driven by a tragic accident, Ben Thomas is on a mission to drastically improve the lives of a group of complete strangers. But much as Ben wants to help the world, he is also a man who feels cut off, alone, unable to relate to the very humanity he seeks to help – until he meets Emily, who brings a rush of emotion and exhilaration back to his life, complicating everything. 

The role was quite unlike any Smith has tackled in his celebrated career as one of Hollywood's most popular and diverse leading men, including his two Oscar® nominated roles as the iconic Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann's Ali and as the striving father in The Pursuit of Happyness. Smith says he was especially intrigued by the nuances of this role, and because it's about a man who is in the middle of a transformation he doesn't think is possible. 

"The interesting thing is that Ben begins this story as someone who's obviously trying to commit to loving acts, but he isn't able to commit to the pain of actually loving someone,” he explains, "and then suddenly Emily gets him. She gets him in that way we all get got – in that way that one day you look into someone's eyes and she looks different than she did yesterday. There's a glow and a light that's illuminating and you know your life has changed.” 

Ben's life is changed in ways he never saw coming – and those entirely internal but profound changes are at the heart of Smith's performance. "The delicate part of the story was revealing how Ben is actually thinking mostly about himself when he begins his plan, but only after meeting Emily does he start to naturally become more self-less. That one little turn on the road to redemption is what makes his story so powerful,” he says. 

Still, the conflicted perspective and extreme emotional lockdown from which Ben begins to emerge over the course of the film were overwhelming at times, admits Smith. "Ben is so much the complete opposite of who I am, with the darkness of his thoughts and feelings, that it was a very difficult emotional space for me to live in during the production,” he says. 

Part of what bolstered Smith through Ben's dark night of the soul was the very intense yet organic chemistry that developed between he and Rosario Dawson. He says: "She just captured the heart and humility of Emily and it was very inspirational to watch the way Rosario opened up in the film. The thing about Emily is that she has also experienced trauma, but she reacts to it in a very different way than Ben. She can still laugh and dream about life, whereas Ben has refused for a long time to even imagine the possibilities of a brighter life. I think that's what draws him to Emily. He can't figure out why she's still reaching for life, and the more he sees that, that more it gets to him.” 

Most of all, Smith was inspired by the larger scope of the story. "The love story between Ben and Emily is beautiful but that's just one layer of it. For both Gabriele and me, Seven Pounds is ultimately not only about a man and a woman who find each other at a moment of crisis for both of them but a love story between a man and humanity.” 

Once Will Smith had committed to Seven Pounds, the search was on for an actress to play Emily. It was Gabriele Muccino who suggested Rosario Dawson, who has been emerging as one of today's most sought-after leading ladies, with roles ranging from the action of Eagle Eye and Sin City to the drama of Shattered Glass and The 25th Hour. Says Muccino: "Rosario carries a tangible vulnerability that matches with her sensuality. There's a cleverness that comes across through her attitude – and it was that cleverness that I felt we needed in order to believe that somebody like Ben could be rescue

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