Will Smith Was an ‘A–hole’ on ‘Ali’ Set, Costar Paul Rodriguez Claims

Back in the ring. Paul Rodriguez is not a fan of Will Smith. The actor called out his Ali costar for his on-set behavior during a recent interview with San Diego’s Rock 105.3 radio station.

Will Smith in Ali. Courtesy Everett Collection

“I’ve done a couple of films with him, and this time we didn’t end up so good,” Rodriguez, 61, said on Friday, February 19. “I’d never work with him again. He was an a–hole.”

Rodriguez portrayed Dr. Ferdie Pacheco in the 2001 biopic about Muhammad Ali, which starred Smith as the title character. Rodriguez claims that trouble began when the real Pacheco, Ali’s former physician, allegedly came to set drunk.

Paul Rodriguez, Will Smith Chris Weeks/Getty Images; Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

“He goes into Will Smith’s trailer and he’s upset that his part isn’t bigger and that I’m playing him. He wanted Andy Garcia to play him,” the comedian told Rock 105.3. “It escalated to the point where he started using the N-word to Will . . . and the police had to escort him off the set. From then on, Will never looked at me the same.”

Ron Silver, Paul Rodriguez, Jeffrey Wright, and Jamie Foxx in Ali. Courtesy Everett Collection

Smith, 47 — who was nominated for an Oscar for his work in the film — reportedly then lashed out at Rodriguez. Rodriguez is still confused by the situation and why Smith took out his aggression on him. “He started saying really offensive stuff to me,” Rodriguez claimed. “He said, ‘You’re a long way from anybody that likes you.’ I’m going, ‘Where’s that coming from?’…There was no cause to insult me or berate me.”

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