In his new movie Hitch, Will Smith plays a dating coach who teaches hapless guys how to woo the ladies. Offscreen? Smith, 36, claims he’s even smoother than his character—even after seven years of marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith, 33, and three kids (Willow, 4, Jaden, 6, and Trey, 12, his son from his first marriage to Sheree Zampino). The maestro gave PEOPLE contributor Tiffany McGee his tips for igniting a romance and shared how he keeps his own aflame.
When can your 12-year-old son Trey start dating?
Whenever he wants to. The same way my parents did it. He can go to the girl’s house or she can come to our house—but it’s always a parent-brokered interaction.
What romantic pointers did you pick up while making Hitch?
I didn’t pick up as many tips as I brought. I am Hitch in my real life.
Okay, Mr. Romance Expert, what was your best date with Jada?
On one birthday, she came home to an empty house and a DVD taped to the door. It was me saying, “Hey, baby, you don’t know what’s happening but just go upstairs. There are clothes laid out on the bed, and there will be a car outside in 20 minutes.” The car took her to the airport, she got on the plane, and it brought her to San Francisco to a restaurant that she had been reading about. So that’s how Big Will does it!
That’s a pretty high bar. Was your first date with Jada like that?
Naw, that was different. We’d known one another for a long time. Our first date was completely about talking, so the place wasn’t even important. The first time we had a chance to really talk, we both knew very seriously that there was potential for some heat.
How did you prepare for that date?
There wasn’t a lot of research to do because I’d seen her TV shows and movies. And we had two mutual friends sort of brokering our relationship…. I was one of those guys who always had a reconnaissance team to make sure that the girl liked me before I even approached. If there was somebody I was vibin’, it was always about somebody else arranging the interaction.
How did you propose to Jada?
We were just lying there, going to sleep. I looked over at her, and I said, “Hey, we might be real good married. Wassup? You wanna marry me?” Unplanned. No ring. Not the classic proposal. She said yes. It’s really weird when you live the kind of lifestyle that we live: Simplicity becomes the jewel.
What was your best Valentine’s Day?
I avoid holidays because I think it strips away any ability to be truly spontaneous. Our best Valentine’s Day actually took place in October. We went to Hawaii and had seven days of Valentine’s Day. We went to dinner, balloons came every day, flowers, candy, petals in the bathtub. Each day was sweeter than the next.
Is it hard for you two to watch each other have scenes with sexy costars?
That actually adds spice to your relationship. It makes you stay on your toes. It makes sure you’re not slippin’, because there’s always someone hot looking for your spot.
When you know what you want, where you’re going, what you’re doing, it becomes less difficult to manage. That’s why we work.