Behind The Scenes: Will Smith On The Set Of I AM LEGEND

Director Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend is a pretty decent stab at adapting Richard Matheson’s seminal 1954 sci-fi/horror novel of the same name for the screen.

Having said that, this Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich written movie isn’t as good as The Last Man on Earth (1964) with Vincent Price and 1971’s The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston – the previous adaptations of the book. However, it’s got the requisite scope to fully realise the desolation within Matheson’s tale. 

Will Smith is Robert Neville, the last surviving human living in isolation after a plague wipes out humanity. Neville has natural immunity to the virus and he’s working to find a cure – because the remnants of the world have now become Darkseekers – vampiric creatures which crave human flesh and only come out at night. 

After some great tension and world building during the first hour or so, I Am Legend begins to fall apart because the CGI Darkseekers looks pretty stupid. Practical effects would have worked really well here – and apparently that was the plan – but Lawrence ditched the idea a week into production. I could have also done without Smith reciting lines of dialogue from Shrek, but whatever. 

One of the great what-if movies of all time is the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Ridley Scott version that was almost made by Warner Bros. in the late 1990s. Alas, it was never to be due to budgeting reasons. 

Released in December 2007, I Am Legend grossed $256.3 million at the U.S. box office and $545.4 million worldwide from a $150 million budget. 

A sequel is currently in development – with Will Smith set to reprise his role opposite Michael B. Jordan. This is despite the fact that Smith’s character dies at the end of the theatrical version of the film.

They’re apparently ret-conning the whole ending – and using an alternate finale (cut that film after test screenings) that appears on the DVD release. This version sees Smith’s Neville live. Hollywood, eh?