Will Smith Says 'Emancipation' Costar Ben Foster 'Didn't Acknowledge Me' for 6 Months to Stay in Character

Will Smith says on Red Table Talk that costar Ben Foster "didn't say a word" to him or "make eye contact" with him while they filmed Emancipation

Ben Foster didn't formally introduce himself to costar Will Smith until his last day of filming.

On this week's Red Table Talk, Will, 54, takes over as host to discuss his performance in Emancipation, now streaming on Apple TV+, with his three kids Willow, 22, Jaden, 24, and Trey Smith, 30. In the film, based on a true story and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Will plays a man named Peter who escapes slavery, and Foster, 42, is a ruthless hunter of runaways.

Will, in a clip shared exclusively with PEOPLE, recalls how Foster stayed in character by not addressing him for six months. He says on the first day of production, inclement weather forced them not to get anything filmed, so Will started thanking everybody for showing up — but Foster ignored him.

"In my mind, I was giving my best 'Will Smith,' " the actor says, "and Ben just walked past me and didn't say nothing. I was like, 'Oh, he must not have seen me.' Then for six months he didn't speak to me. He didn't make eye contact with me. He didn't say a word. He didn't acknowledge me for six months."

Ben Foster and Will Smith arrives at the Apple Original Films' "Emancipation" Los Angeles Premiere at Regency Village Theatre on November 30, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Ben Foster and Will Smith. Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

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"But what he did that first day," Will continues, "I was like, 'Yup. Got it: We're not playing. This is real; this is serious. We're not fooling around with these ideas.' I really credit Ben for clicking me into the next gear of depth and focus."

On the final day of the shoot, Foster finally broke character and introduced himself to Will. The moment came after director Fuqua confirmed "we got it" and wrapped the film's production, giving Foster the all-clear to call off his methods.

"Then I look over at Ben, it's his last day, he says, 'Nice to meet you. Ben,' " Will recalls with a smile as he laughs with his kids.

Will Smith Emancipation trailer
Will Smith in Emancipation (2022). Apple TV+

At the Los Angeles premiere of Emancipation on Nov. 30, Foster told PEOPLE, "[I've] been a fan of Will Smith for a long time, so it was an honor to work with him and he's done some of the finest work, I believe, of his career."

He added of Will's star power: "It's like, how do you describe a sunset? How do you describe the stars? Some people just have the thing. But what I saw was him going deeper than I've ever seen before."

Will Smith's Red Table Talk Takeover with Willow, Jaden and Trey is available to stream starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch.

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