Will Smith Opens Up About How 'Collateral Beauty' Helped Him Deal With Dad's Death

Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

The actor, whose father died, said he got the screenplay just as his father was diagnosed and given six weeks to live.

On Thursday's Ellen, Will Smith spoke about the emotional experience of working on Collateral Beauty at the same time his father was fatally ill.

Ellen DeGeneres asked what it was like playing a character who suffers a loss, while going through such a tough personal experience.

"What was really interesting is I got the screenplay right when my father was diagnosed," said Smith. "So I have the screenplay, and I'm doing all of this research about a guy who experiences death at the time my father was given six weeks."

Smith said it turned out to be an amazing and beautiful opportunity for him and his father to connect and speak about death and grief, rather than hide from it.

"My father and I were sharing it during that time, so the performance for me, and the movie for me, and the ideas are so deeply personal," said Smith. "This film for me is the most personal and beautiful journey. When art and life comes together in that way and when you create something that could potentially help people get through difficult times, it’s fantastic."

Smith's father passed away a month ago, surviving a little longer than his original diagnosis.

"I hope you all see it, and I hope you love it. And anybody who needs it — I hope it really is able to do for you what it was able to do for my father and I," said Smith.