Will Smith says he borrowed $10,000 from a drug dealer after he went broke from not paying taxes


Will Smith and Idris Elba in 2021.

Will Smith and Idris Elba on stage during “WILL: An Evening of Stories with Friends” in London, England.Lia Toby/Getty Images

  • Will Smith shared his past financial troubles during a Thursday book tour appearance in London.

  • Smith said he once borrowed $10,000 from a friend who was a drug dealer after going broke from tax debt.

  • Smith said he sold everything and moved to Los Angeles after receiving the money.

Will Smith recently shared that at the beginning of his career, he borrowed $10,000 from a drug dealer when he became broke after failing to pay his tax debt in the early 1990s.

During a Thursday appearance at the Savoy Theatre in London to promote his autobiography “Will,” Smith spoke with actor Idris Elba about his financial problems after becoming famous.

“I’m not sure what the Government is like with taxes in the UK, but in the US, they take it seriously,” Smith told the audience, according to a video captured by Metro.

“So Uncle Sam wanted his money … I didn’t forget, I just didn’t pay,” he continued.

“I had 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,” he said.

“So I borrowed $10,000 from a friend of mine who was a purveyor of neighborhood pharmaceuticals,” he continued as the audience laughed.

“Was his name Stringer Bell?” Elba responded, referencing the infamous character he played on HBO’s “The Wire.”

The “King Richard” star almost declared bankruptcy, but he would move to Los Angeles, and go on to win the lead role in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

According to “Will Smith: A Biography,” the IRS garnished 70 percent of his salary over the first three seasons of the show.

Smith ended the night by performing a medley of his hits alongside frequent collaborator Jazzy Jeff, including, “Brand New Funk,” “Switch,” “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and “Summertime.”

On November 8 Smith embarked on a five-date book tour to promote his memoir, beginning in his hometown of Philadelphia and making stops in Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London.

Representatives for Smith did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

“Will” was released on November 9.

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