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I Am Legend virus misinformation inspires Will Smith to spread coronavirus truth

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Mar 18, 2020, 10:33 PM EDT (Updated)

Will Smith wants you to know he's sorry — sorry for any misinformation you might have picked up from his post-apocalyptic film I Am Legend, which he jokingly referred to as cause for appearing on his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's family talk show, Red Table Talk, today. And all kidding aside, he used the show to help clear the air and spread some truth about how viruses work.

Early on in Pinkett Smith's one-hour Facebook Watch program tackling the very serious topic of the coronavirus, Smith says, “I wanted to do this because in 2008 I made I Am Legend, so I feel responsible for a lot of the misinformation." (Granted, he did mistakenly misinform about the year he made the 2007 film.)

Though everyone laughed at the joke, the tone of the show is far more somber. The family program tackles the issues of the coronavirus in order to help children and parents learn more about what makes this virus so different, and what we can all do to help stop its spread.

Early on in the show, Smith says that playing the role of U.S. Army virologist Robert Neville in I Am Legend changed him, and how he views the world: "I had the opportunity in my preparation for the role to go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and there's a basic foundational comprehension of viruses and viral pathogens that I developed, and it really changed my life and how I looked at the world."

For those who need a little refresher (or perhaps something to quaran-stream), I Am Legend follows immune Neville as one of the few survivors left on Earth after a human-made virus wipes out most of the population. With nothing but his trusty dog and mutant Darkseekers to keep him company in an empty New York City, Neville sets about finding a cure using himself (and blood) as the guinea pig.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Speaking today about the film, and what he learned at the CDC regarding viruses, Smith says, "There are basic concepts that people do not understand."

Indeed, it's not easy keeping up with all the information. Which is why the Smiths brought in Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases, who explains what makes this virus different from the flu. He also lays out some helpful measures people can and should take to protect themselves and their families, including when to call a medical professional.

"It's good to call your doctor if you have a flu-like illness, muscle aches, fever, chills, headache, dry cough. If you have that, it's worth calling your medical clinic," says Osterholm. "Don't go in. Let them tell you what to do and when to be seen."

Also appearing on the program is a 25-year-old currently battling the coronavirus in West Hollywood, who recently returned from London, England. She has had the virus for around 10 days, but is recovering at home.

(via Entertainment Weekly)


This story presents some humorous responses to coronavirus, but COVID-19 is very real! Please exercise caution out there: wash those hands, keep them away from your face, and practice social distancing. For extensive information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe, check out the CDC’s coronavirus website.

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