Smith, who bought a house in Johannesburg, is now talking about spending the year in Africa with his wife, actress Jada Pinkett, and their children. He said he doesn't want his kids to be "completely miseducated" about their heritage, like he was.
'I'm Profoundly Changed'
When Ali opens on Christmas Day, Smith will reach the end of the journey he began two years ago. But he says the trip he made through the life and times of "The Greatest" will last him forever.
"I'm profoundly changed," he said. "There's a bittersweet emotion that I feel from playing this role … I want the world to be different because I was here. However lofty or crazy or delusional that may sound, I want people's lives to be better because I was here."
Smith, who first made a name for himself as a rapper, has worked his way up the Hollywood pay scale with films like Independence Day and Men in Black, and now earns $20-million a movie. Now that he's finished Ali, he's not sure what's next.
"It's quite highly possible that I have peaked," he said. "I mean, I just can't imagine what else I could do beyond this. It's really a bittersweet kind of feeling."