Will Smith opens up about the trauma he’s endured throughout his life.
Smith was a guest on David Letterman’s Netflix series My Next Guest Needs no Introduction. The episode was released on May 20.
The title card before the interview read, “this episode was filmed prior to the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony.” Referring to when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage after he made a joke at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense at the Oscars.
The hour-long conversation spanned several topics from Smith’s childhood to his career.
At the beginning of the interview, Will said he “always thought of myself as a coward” after witnessing his father physically abuse his mother as a child.
He said this is part of why he decided to be a cheerful presence. “When I showed up, I wanted people to feel good and be happy. Because I found that when my household was that way, I felt safe.”
During the interview, Will jokingly pretended to strike David Lettermen when talking about his mother. The actor teased, “Don’t say nothing about my mother, Dave.”
Smith also opened up about his experience with Ayahausca, stating he had a vision of “my whole life getting destroyed.” He said the experience helped him move forward with his career. “When I came out of it, I realized that anything that happens in my life, I can handle it,” Will said. “I can handle any person I lose. I can handle anything that goes wrong in my life. I can handle anything in my marriage.”
Will Smith also talked about how hard it can be to protect your loved ones.
“Protection and safety is an illusion. You have to learn to live with the reality that any moment, anything can be gone in one second. So, with that reality, how can you be here? And how can you be joyful and be here?”
Smith also said that enduring trauma made him a better actor.
“Life is so exciting to me right now because I can reach people differently than I’ve ever been able to reach people, largely because of my pain,” he shared. “I’m really ready to dive into my art in a way that I think will be hopefully fulfilling for me and helpful for the human family.”