Will Smith baffles Coachella festivalgoers with surprise performance during J Balvin’s set

Reggaeton star J Balvin stunned his Coachella audience by bringing out Will Smith on Sunday (14 April).

The actor joined the Columbian singer for a rendition of his 1997 hit “Men In Black” (which accompanied the film of the same name).

The cameo was in keeping with Balvin’s extra-terrestrial-themed set, featuring a giant alien head and a giant mock UFO.

Wearing his Men in Black character’s trademark black suit and sunglasses, Smith emerged onto the stage from a rising platform yelling: “Coachella!”

He then rapped the track as backing dancers in alien costumes and black suits performed behind him.

At the end of the song, Balvin – who is set to perform at London’s O2 Arena on 5 June – was dragged off-stage by the suit-wearing dancers while Smith pulled out a “Neuralyzer”, the famous memory-erasing device from the film franchise.

As clips of the moment circulated online, fans reacted in surprise to the unlikely appearance. “Yall wtf is going awn at coachella,” one wrote on X.

“Are we in a simulation?” asked another.

“Balvin really brought out the fresh prince??” said a third, referencing another of Smith’s most famous characters.

J Balvin and Will Smith perform at the Coachella Stage during the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (Getty Images for Coachella)
J Balvin and Will Smith perform at the Coachella Stage during the 2024 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (Getty Images for Coachella)

The performance is a rare public showing for Smith, who has kept a relatively low profile since he slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars ceremony. Smith went on to win Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams, father to tennis stars Venus and Serena, in King Richard.

However, the actor is set to return to the big screen soon in Bad Boys 4.

The next film in the buddy cop franchise, which sees Smith teaming up once again with Martin Lawrence, was announced in January 2023. In March, Smith announced that the film would be released on 7 June.

Directed by returning filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, it will be the fourth instalment in the action franchise following 2020’s Bad Boys for Life.

After the Oscars slap, both Lawrence and Sony Pictures chair Tom Rothman disputed rumours that the controversy surrounding Smith’s actions had delayed the film.

Last month, it was announced that the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation was set to close following a fall in donations. According to tax records, the foundation’s revenue dropped by more than $1.5m from 2021 to 2022.

In July 2022, Smith issued an apology video to Rock, which the comedian did not respond to.

Rock finally addressed the incident head-on for the first time in his 2023 comedy special for Netflix, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.