07/05/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Will Smith Defends Tom Cruise

"Hancock" star Will Smith took the time while promoting his new action movie to defend his friend Tom Cruise. The pair have spent a lot of time together in the past year, with Cruise traveling to New York to attend Smith's last premiere, supporting him when he got his star, and co-throwing a welcome party for the Beckhams. Smith has also defended Scientology.

In am interview with USA Today Smith said the following:

Smith has been taking more knocks than usual, primarily for his ties to Cruise and speculation that he has converted to Scientology.

Smith, who was raised Baptist and says he remains Christian (he co-founded the non-denominational Christian church Living Waters in San Fernando Valley), takes such gossip about as seriously as he does marauding space creatures.

"You have to let that roll off you," he says. "There's a natural narcotic my brain must pump, because negativity doesn't last. It's strange to play a guy like Hancock, who can't find something to feel good about. That's the opposite of who I am."

To prepare for the role, he watched W.C. Fields and All in the Family. "W.C. Fields was hilarious being mean to kids. And Archie Bunker was a jerk, but he was hilarious," he says.

"I've got this theory that as long as your characters are harmless, or in pain, they can be funny. Even when they're mean to kids."

He has applied part of that theory to parenting his children, Willow, 7, and Jaden, 9, whom he had with wife Jada Pinkett, and Smith's son from his first marriage, Trey, 15.

"The kids can do anything they want, as long as Daddy thinks it's funny," he says. "And artistically, that's where you need to be, too. You have to find the humor in things."

Still, he's bothered by how the entertainment media handle Cruise's faith. "That's painful for me to see. I've met very few people committed to goodness the way Tom is. We disagree on a lot of things. ... But even with different faiths and different beliefs, at the end of the day, goodness is goodness."

Read whole interview