Unusually Clever People

Will Smith, America’s Hottest Gardener

Gardener

I will go see anything with Will Smith in it, as evidenced by the fact that I sat through the syrupy and ill-conceived Seven Pounds this weekend. Great cast, interesting idea, but it just didn’t come together somehow.  So my advice is to skip it, but if you do end up watching it on an airplane someday, it has this redeeming feature:  Will Smith gardening!  Really, I’m not making this up.  Someone, somewhere, connected to this film is a gardener, and their influence is felt in small but important ways. 

The film opens at a Malibu beach house with an actual mature, interesting garden on the slope leading down to the beach.  Sure, it was stuffed brightly-blooming something-or-others–they looked like azaleas but they could have been bougainvillea or even geraniums– but still, it was an appealing garden, not one of those fake Hollywood gardens made with strips of turf and five-gallon blooming annuals from Home Depot.

Then much of the action takes place in what looks like an older, established neighborhood of bungalows in Pasadena.  One character (played by Amanda Carlin) is a gardener; she’s always out front in her big straw hat tinkering with her roses.  The first time Will Smith meets her, he says, "Have you tried burying banana peels around your roses? It works."

And then he goes next door to meet Rosario Dawson, whose garden is clearly the sort of natural, unfussy, real garden someone would have in Pasadena–some ornamental grasses, some jasmine climbing up a trellis, some shrubs, a few little trees. At one point in the film, to ingratiate himself to her, Will Smith shows up and pulls some weeds.

That’s right, Will Smith pulling weeds. That’s an image to keep you warm this winter. Oh, and when he’s done with the weeds, he strips down to his tank top and repairs her antique printing press. Handy fellow, that guy. 

That’s it–that’s as garden-y as it gets–but it was convincing and genuine. Who gets the credit for this? Turns out there’s a job called greensman, and in this case the greensman was Todd Wolcott. He probably didn’t have any influence over the script, but he did manage to pull off some convincing gardens—so nice work, Todd.

Posted by on December 22, 2008 at 5:02 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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21 responses to “Will Smith, America’s Hottest Gardener”

  1. Sara says:

    Ooooh, that would be a great Netflix list – best movies for the gardener… Need to go see if someone has already done the task. Any recommendations out there?
    Cheers!

  2. Brie says:

    I can’t remember which movie it is…but I believe it’s an action or suspense flick that has a botanist as a character. She’s got a greenhouse and all these pitcher plants, orchids, and other hothouse delights…I’ve never actually seen the movie, but everyone says I should for the sole reason of the botanist lady and her crazy greenhouse.

  3. Oh, geez — today’s my birthday and my husband is taking me to see this movie.

    Cameron

  4. greg draiss says:

    Smith is not gardening………..he is still acting.

    Acting like a gardener and being one are two different things.
    And gardens in movies are stuff your mantra hates

    “landscaping with plant materials”

    The (not seeing the movie either) TROLL

  5. Makes a great pinup. Gorgeous! Who cares he can’t garden.

  6. I like the idea of a Netflix list for gardeners. I have a list of movies for writers, chief among which is Billy Crystal and Danny Devito in Throw Mama from the Train. “Sultry, stupid! Sultry! is one of our favorite lines, but you have to see the movie.

  7. JT says:

    The idea of Will Smith pulling weeds among the sesleria, miscanthus or stipa . . . nice.

    As for gardening movies, how about Being There with Peter Sellers as Chance the gardener.

    Also don’t forget Saving Grace in which some alternative gardening saves the estate.

  8. I had absolutely no idea that people acting in movies were not actually depicting a real event or person.

    Oh my gawd, Does this mean that there is no Santa Claus too ?

  9. chuck b. says:

    Yeah, so I see Wolcott was the greensman on Zodiac too, and I totally remember getting distracted by a pittosporum in that movie.

    Movies-for-gardeners memes pop up from time to time. I still love a movie called The Swimmer for the background gardening. Unfortunately, it’s not currently available. DVD movie rights for old-ish movies are weird that way, coming in and out of availability.

  10. tai haku says:

    supposedly brad pitt has a rather nice cycad collection….

  11. greg draiss says:

    Yes there is no Santa Claus…..and he does not garden in movies depicting himself as savior of Toys R Us either.

    The post was about Smith’s impact on the real world by showing him gardening.

    I do not expect to see Will Smith as spokesman for Miracle Gro in ’09.

    And why call yourself “Deviant” Michelle….?

    I have seen your work in photographs and it is very good.

    The (Yes Virginia there is a) TROLL

  12. Amy Stewart says:

    Chuck, I just love the idea of you getting distracted by a pittosporum.

  13. Genevieve says:

    I don’t care if it is fake, I think they oughtta make some gardening pinup posters, like my mechanic has in his shop only with plants and not cards. My crew of ladies would dig rummaging in the tool closet next to a muscled Will Smith pulling weeds.

  14. Genevieve says:

    Cars, for crying out loud, not cards.

  15. JT says:

    Oh, and LOTR in which the hero is a gardener . . . Sam. And of course Treebeard is a gardener (well, shepherd he says) of trees.

  16. eliz says:

    Chuck, that was Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer, right? A Cheever story, one of my faves.

  17. Gretchen says:

    Brie, are you thinking of Minority Report? One of the characters there has a pretty intriguing garden, if I remember correctly.

  18. Brie says:

    Gretchen—I think that’s the one! Thank you.

  19. JT beat me to my garden favorite, Saving Grace, featuring a young Craig Ferguson. This year’s discovery: If you don’t mind reading subtitles (or your French is good), you might also enjoy Jean de Florette / Manon of the Spring (1986), a pair of movies that aren’t so much about gardening but the plot does revolve around water and growing cut flowers for market.

  20. Michele Owens says:

    My pick for hot gardener: Simon Baker in Something New. Wish he’d do my yard.

  21. Have you seen the Italian countryside in the movie 1900?

    I had to watch this movie a couple of times. First, to enjoy the scenery, second, to pay attention to the story.

    I’m working on a movie list compilation. I’ll post it when it’s ready!

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