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Will Smith betting on ‘Black’ after four-year hiatus

Will Smith Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as agents monitoring alien activity “Men Black 3.”

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as agents monitoring alien activity in “Men in Black 3.”

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Updated: June 29, 2012 8:49AM

LOS ANGELES — Will Smith has been quietly absent from the big screen since 2008. Why?

He’s been building a family empire. Wife Jada’s TV show “HawthoRNe.” Daughter Willow’s hit single “Whip My Hair.” Son Jaden’s “Karate Kid” remake.

“Oh man, I go back to this particular time in my life as a child when I watched ‘Dallas.’ As long as I can remember that was my vision for my life,” Smith says.

“I loved that their property had a name. They called it Southfork. I thought, ‘How does a house have a name?’ Our house doesn’t have a name. In Philly, we call our house Row House.

“I wanted to have a family business someday where everybody came to breakfast because we lived on the property and talked about our business over breakfast.”

This Friday, Papa Smith is back in “Men in Black 3,” which reunites him with Tommy Lee Jones. In the film, his alien-hunting Agent J travels back in time to the ’60s to stop Agent K (Jones) and the world from their early demise.

“Suddenly, I realized that it has been three years that I’ve been off camera. I knew it was time to get back to work,” Smith says.

Returning to his sci-fi franchise pleased him at age 43.

“Once you become a really old man in this business you stop making the young movies, right? At least that’s the theory. I don’t subscribe to that theory,” he says.

“I like big movies, but I have a new clarity about them. I’d like to make movies that have some message or make some statement. With ‘Men in Black 3,’ we connect to the destructive nature of secrets and how a relationship can get repaired through the destruction of secrets.”

Ask about the success of his kids and Smith smiles proudly.

“The other day some kids called me Mr. Willow,” he says. “Then I was asked, ‘Aren’t you the Karate Kid’s dad? I’ve been asked that last one in many different languages.”

Smith is currently filming “After Earth” for director M. Night Shyamalan, about a father and son exploring an alien planet. Of course, Jaden, 13, plays the boy.

“At the dinner table, Jaden has this predatory look in his eyes,” Smith says with a laugh. “He is so coming for me at the box office. I said, ‘Son, I will teach you everything I know. And if you work hard, you can become the second biggest movie star of all time.’ ”

Big Picture News Inc.

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