Will Smith: 9 surprising things we learnt from the actor’s candid new memoir

From confessing his love for Stockard Channing, to admitting he wanted to kill his father at one point

Maanya Sachdeva
Wednesday 10 November 2021 11:08 GMT
Will Smith tripped 14 times on ayahuasca
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In the run-up to the release of Will Smith’s highly anticipated, candid memoir Will, several details about the actor’s professional and personal lives have emerged online. As excerpts from the book were carried by publications like People, it became clear that the actor was gearing up to give readers near-unprecedented and unrestricted access to his fame and family life.

From Smith revealing he once fell in love with actor Stockard Channing to him talking candidly about his sex life, here are the main revelations from the 53-year-old’s no-holds barred autobiography, which he co-wrote with Mark Manson.

Smith turned to drugs after Jada mocked birthday party he held for her

After Smith’s wife Jada criticised the birthday party he planned for her in 2011, the couple decided to split up. While dealing with this personal crisis, the Men In Black actor travelled to Peru where he participated in over a dozen ayahuasca rituals. In his memoir, Smith described the experience of drinking the potent psychoactive tea – deep within the jungles of South America, and guided by a shaman – as the “unparalleled greatest feeling” he’s ever had.

The actor met a tantric sex expert and confessed he wanted a ‘harem of girlfriends’

After Peru, Smith travelled to Trinidad where he consulted with intimacy coach and tantric sex expert Michaela Boem, When Boem asked the actor what he would want if he could have anything, Smith said a “harem of girlfriends”. He named actor Halle Berry and ballet dancer Misty Copeland as two women he’d invite into it. Boem and Smith identified a total of 25 women for this “harem”. The actor doesn’t name any women, except Berry and Copeland, in the book.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor had suicidal thoughts when he was 13

Smith confessed that he contemplated suicide after his mother Caroline Bright – who was physically abused by the actor’s father Willard Carroll Smith Sr – walked away from her family. Explaining the circumstances under which Bright left, the actor said that “she’d had enough” of his father’s abuse. Smith said the incident left him feeling lonely and guilty, and drove him to suicidal thoughts.

He wrote: “I thought about pills; I knew where a boy had lost his legs on the train tracks; I had seen people cut their wrists in a bathtub on TV.”

Smith cleared his father’s child-support debts worth £103,000

While talking about his parents’s separation and eventual divorce, the Independence Day actor said he paid his father’s backdated child support bills, totalling $140,000 (£103,000). Already a successful actor by the time the divorce was finalised in 2000, Smith said his father simply didn’t have the money to pay his mother. Smith said he stepped up to clear the bills because his mom “was unwilling to make any concession” and “there was no version of me letting my father go to jail”.

The actor revealed a childhood memory of his father attacking his mother

Theactor recounted a terrible act of violence by his father against his mother.. In the memoir, the actor wrote that he watched Smith Sr punch Bright “so hard that she collapsed”. He continued that, despite maintaining a close relationship with his father after his parents’s divorce, “a darkness arose within me” when the same memory resurfaced one night.

While he was caring for his wheelchair-bound father, who had been diagnosed with cancer, the actor admitted that he briefly contemplated pushing him down the stairs to “avenge” his mother.

Smith’s son Jaden asked to be emancipated when he was 15

Smith’s son Jaden asked to be emancipated when he was 15, after the father-son duo starred in the 2013 film After Earth. Smith said the movie was “an abysmal box office and critical failure” that Jaden “took the hit for”, despite having “faithfully” done everything his father had nstructed him to. When Jaden made the emancipation request, Smith said his “heart shattered”.

Will Smith and son Jaden
Will Smith and son Jaden (Getty Images for Netflix)

The actor fell in love with Six Degrees of Separation co-star Stockard Channing

While working on the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation, Smith admitted, he fell in love with his co-star Stockard Channing. At the time, the actor was married to his first wife Sheree Zampino, and the couple had just welcomed their first child. After the film was shot, Smith confessed that he found himself “desperately yearning to see and speak to Stockard”,

Jaden Smith was nearly named Luigi

After Will and Jada welcomed their first-born Jaden, the actor asked his older son Trey (who he shares with ex-wife Zampino) to name Jaden. Smith said the couple’s psychologist thought that involving Trey in the process would “create a sense of ownership and connection” between the two families. However when six-year-old Trey announced his decision to christen the newborn boy Luigi, Smith recalled the look of “abject horror” he shared with Jada.

Ultimately, the Smiths convinced Trey to name their dog Luigi instead, and suggested they each pick one name for the baby. Smith picked Jaden, Jada chose Syre, and Trey went with Christopher. The couple’s son was, therefore, named Jaden Christopher Syre Smith.

John Amos helped Smith bid adieu to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

When Smith was torn between committing to a seventh season of his hit show and pursuing a movie career, TV veteran John Amos came to his rescue. Amos, whose character was unceremoniously killed off on Good Times, told Smith it was up to him to make sure the cast and crew of Fresh Prince “get to leave this show with some dignity”. Aware that the storylines were “becoming increasingly hokey”, Smith finally realised it was time to bring the curtain down on Fresh Prince after his conversation with Amos.

‘Will’ is out now

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