“I’m on stage with Will Smith doing a concert,” Mackie recalled (in our imagination, the Fresh Prince was performing “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson”). “I’m losing my mind, right? So the cake comes out, we bring the cake out, Will Smith sees me and he goes, ‘Hey, Anthony Mackie!’ I’m like, ‘Will Smith knows my name!'” (Give yourself a little bit of credit, Anthony Mackie. You were in The Hurt Locker, one of the best war movies ever made! It won Best Picture!)
“So I go to, like, high five,” Mackie continued. “I don’t know what I was trying to do, but like, I was trying to hug him and he thought I was coming in for, like, a high five. So he, like, tried to grab my arm and he punched me in the jaw so hard. Like he hit me with a right cross so hard. Then he grabbed me and he’s like, ‘you good?’ I was like, ‘I think so. I think we’re in a fight, are we in a fight?’ He’s like, ‘no, no, I’m sorry.'”
Stars, they’re just like us, having really awkward moments with people they want to impress. “Will Smith punched me in the jaw. He’s an angry human being,” Mackie joked. “I know he meant to do it, there is no way you mess up a hug with a punch in a jaw.” Host Jess Cagle noted that Will Smith learned to punch from Muhammad Ali himself, so Mackie had better be careful. “Yo, he has a right cross, man,” Mackie replied. “Protect yourself. ‘Cause dude came in — I mean, woo. It was a punch, but I took a punch from Muhammad Ali. I can say it.”
Mackie’s own punching can be seen in the sci-fi action film Outside the Wire, which comes out on Netflix Jan. 15.