Though Will Smith's powerhouse performance as boxing legend Muhammad Ali in Michael Mann's 2001 biopic Ali garnered mostly positive reviews, one of Smith's co-stars is now claiming the shoot was a less-than-agreeable experience. In a new interview with San Diego radio station Rock 105.3, comedian and Ali co-star Paul Rodriguez claims the production was enough to turn him off from ever popping into a Smith film ever again.
"I'd never work with him again," Rodriguez said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. "He was an asshole." When pressed about the nature of Smith's alleged behavior, Rodriguez says it could have been caused by the "steroids he was using" to get up to 215 pounds. "There was no cause to insult me or berate me," Rodriguez, who portrayed Dr. Ferdie Pacheco in the Oscar-nominated film, continued. “I’m no angel, but I didn't have it coming this time." Rodriguez also added that he wasn't certain of any steroid usage, but was perplexed at how the actor went from "skinny" to "massive."
According to Rodriguez, the Suicide Squad star's behavior toward him started to shift following a harrowing encounter between Dr. Ferdie Pacheco and Smith. Rodriguez alleges that a "drunk" Pacheo verbally assaulted Smith in the star's dressing room using racial slurs, arguing that his character should have a more prominent role in the production and that Rodriguez should be replaced with Andy Garcia. "From then on," Rodriguez recalls, "Will never looked at me the same."
Ali, which currently holds a commendable 67 percent average on Rotten Tomatoes, charts the legend's 10-year period of dominance from 1964 to 1974. This period, of course, includes Ali's conversion to Islam and his highly publicized match with George Foreman. Smith took another biopic turn with last year's Concussion, following the equally historic career of NFL-battling doctor, Bennet Omalu.