Will Smith Reveals He Once Borrowed $10,000 from a Drug Dealer 'Friend' to Pay His Tax Bill

"I didn't forget—I just didn't pay," Smith said of owing the IRS money after failing to pay taxes

Will Smith found an unconventional way to pay back the IRS at the beginning of his career.

The actor sat down with Idris Elba in London at the Savoy Theatre on Thursday to celebrate the release of his autobiography Will.

Smith, 53, revealed to the audience and Elba that he had lost everything before landing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in a video captured by Metro.

"I'm not sure what the government is like with taxes in the U.K., but in the U.S. they take it seriously," he said. "So Uncle Sam wanted his money. I didn't forget—I just didn't pay."

Smith was forced "to sell everything, and I knew whatever my new life was going to be I could feel it was going to be in Los Angeles."

"So, I borrowed $10,000 from a friend of mine who was a purveyor of neighborhood pharmaceuticals," he added, as the crowd laughed. "I borrowed $10,000 and I moved to Los Angeles and one time we were doing shows and I was trying to drum up some cash so we were in Detroit and we were doing a show. I had met a guy named Benny Medina. You remember Arsenio Hall? I started to go there because everybody was on Arsenio Hall."

Smith has currently been on a book tour to promote his autobiography. Earlier this month, the actor spoke with Spike Lee at Kings Theatre in New York City's Brooklyn where he discussed the memoir and shared stories with fans.

Will Smith
Will Smith. Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty

While there, Smith spoke about his father, closing out the evening by sharing the intimate final phone call he had with him shortly before he died five years ago.

"My father, in 2016, was diagnosed with everything. They gave him six weeks to live," Smith said, getting emotional. "It's something interesting when somebody knows that they're gonna die. If somebody knows they're dying and you know, it changes everything in the interaction. The hellos become rich, and the goodbyes become so complete."

Smith said his father was "deteriorating" during the weekly visits he made in between filming a movie, but they shared many meaningful conversations that allowed them to get everything out on the table.

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"We tuned into one another in a way that we never had. He was given six weeks but he ended up living for three months," he said.

Lee then asked, "Why is it that it takes loved ones being at the end of their lives? Why can't we get that before people are dying?"

"Here's what I would say to everybody out there," responded Smith, adding, "We have relationships that are, you know, not the best ... there are people who we wish they had done better to us, we wished could have loved us better.... I would just say: Just call them. You wanna be able to say that you tried. Death is so final. I swear to you you don't want to be left with that."

"My father and I had time to talk out everything. We had weeks and weeks; every single conversation was rich and powerful, and we got clean. Some people don't get the time," he explained.

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