Will Smith credits Nelson Mandela with his string of successful comedies, because the political leader inspired him to use his gift to spread happiness.

The HITCH actor vowed to make serious, moral movies after his 2001 Oscar nomination for his role as legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in ALI, but meeting the South-African convinced him of the value of laughter.

He says, "I was all excited about telling him I only wanted to make movies that would change the world. He told me that for the 27 years he was in prison he got so much pleasure out of the one movie they sent every six months that made him laugh and helped him escape for a few hours from the hopelessness.

"That really inspired me to know that what I was doing in those other movies was not a bad thing."