As it happenedended1637275897

Will Smith in London: here’s everything from his revealing interview with Idris Elba

The actor was in London for an in-depth chat with Idris Elba

Elizabeth Aubrey
Thursday 18 November 2021 22:51
<p>Will Smith poses at the ‘Bad Boys for Life’ launching photocall in Madrid on 8 January 2020</p>

Will Smith poses at the ‘Bad Boys for Life’ launching photocall in Madrid on 8 January 2020

Will Smith was in London tonight (18 November) for a special evening of conversation with Idris Elba and some special guests.

The night, ‘An Evening of Stories with Friends at the Savoy Theatre, London’, will see Smith open-up to Elba about his recent, candid memoir, Will.

A description of the evening said: “For the first time, Will Smith opens up fully about his life, tracing his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned.”

It continues: “Joined by special guests, this will be an unforgettable evening sharing the profound journey that self-knowledge brings, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind.”

The event saw Smith reflecting on his childhood with Elba, how he became the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, how he met Jazzy Jeff and how he coped with seeing domestic violence in his childhood.

You can see a full re-cap of the evening below.



Will Smith’s recently released memoir, Will, stunned readers with its content.

From his difficult childhood which led to him contemplating suicide aged just 13, to difficulties in his marriage years later, Smith’s autobiography was one of the most candid and open to come out of Hollywood for years.

Tonight, Smith will discuss some of these revelations in person with actor Idris Elba, and some other “special guests”.

The event is due to begin shortly, but until then, you can read about some of the most surprising revelations from Smith’s autobiography here:

9 of the most surprising revelations from Will Smith’s new memoir

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

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 18:46

The tell-all memoir

Tonight, Smith will be discussing his memoir in more detail with Elba.

Many fans were so shocked by some of the revelations online that they accused Smith of “over-sharing”.

You can read our opinion piece about the matter here:

Sex, psychedelics and murderous impulses – do we know too much about Will Smith?

The Men in Black star and his wife Jada have become Hollywood’s most enthusiastic answerers of deeply personal questions nobody asked. It’s certainly refreshing, writes Adam White, but is it actively harming their ability to disappear into movie roles?

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 18:54

What might Will Smith open up about tonight?

Will Smith’s memoir discussed many personal things, including how his son Jaden wanted to become emancipated from his parents when he was a minor, aged 15.

Jaden’s request came after the pair co-starred in the 2013 film After Earth, which Will described as “an abysmal box office and critical failure”.

“And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit,” Smith wrote in an extract of his new memoir obtained by People, adding: “Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.”

Smith described how his “heart shattered” when Jaden asked him to become emancipated, a decision the now 23-year-old star “ultimately decided against”.

The issue was one of the most talked-about when the memoir was released. You can read more about it here:

Why did Jaden Smith ask to be legally separated from his parents?

Smith said his ‘heart shattered’ when Jaden asked to become separated from him and wife Jada

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 19:05

A memoir full of challenging revelations

One of the most talked-about revelations from Smith’s memoir came when he opened-up about feeling suicidal, aged just 13.

Smith confessed that he contemplated suicide after his mother, who suffered physical abuse from his father, left home.

Smith writes that his mother’s departure left him feeling lonely and guilty.

It is expected that Smith may discuss this more in detail this evening.

You can read our original report about Smith’s story here:

Will Smith says he thought about suicide aged 13 after his mother left

Smith’s autobiography is released today (9 November)

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to to find a helpline near you.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247, or visit their website here.

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 19:13

Will Smith recently earned rave reviews in ‘King Richard'

For his turn as Venus and Serena Williams’ father in King Richard, Smith has earned much critical acclaim.

In a four star review of the film, The Independent said: “What actually makes Smith such a ferocious asset to King Richard is the one thing that couldn’t be scrubbed out. He is a true movie star in an age where there are diminishingly few – and with that comes a certain sense of command, a largeness to his presence that reaches beyond the confines of the film itself.”

You can read our full review of the film here:

Will Smith is a true movie star in King Richard – review

Though some truths have been manipulated, the story of the Williams sisters and their ambitious father still finds his own compelling sources of tension

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 19:23

The event will begin shortly

The event is due to begin shortly – stay tuned for updates from The Savoy theatre in London where Will Smith is in conversation with Luther actor Idris Elba.

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 19:32

Will Smith opens with a rap

Will Smith has taken to the stage at the Savoy Theatre in London with a rap - on a remix of “Will” – a Joyner Lucas song.

“You guys sound like you’re ready to have some fun tonight,” Smith shouted once he finished.

Idris Elba has now also joined him on stage. “I wanted to come out and rap too!” Elba joked.

Elba has thanked the crowd for buying all the tickets to the show “in two minutes.”

“This book is all of my blood, sweat, tears and emotional nakedness,” Smith said of his recent memoir.

Elba revealed that he’s only up to “chapter six” in the memoir so far.

“The book is incredible,” Elba said of what he’s read up to now.

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 19:45

Will Smith opens up about his reasons for writing the memoir

Idris Elba asked Will Smith about his reasons for writing the memoir.

“This was the first time when I [felt I] experienced enough, suffered enough and solved enough problems in my order for it to be helpful,” Smith said of his reasons for writing the memoir now.

“It was the first time I felt like I could say things with an earned emotional authority that I thought could be helpful.”

“My father died in 2016. There were things in my childhood that I never would have shared while he was alive,” Smith revealed.

“I felt handcuffed in a way that I couldn’t share my full truth.”

“He was one of the greatest men I’d ever known...but there were flaws.”

You can read more about Smith’s difficult relationship with his father here:

Will Smith paid his father’s child-support debts

Smith has previously accused his father of being abusive towards his mother

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 19:49

“You strike me as someone who is fearless"

Idris Elba told Will Smith he comes across as “fearless” in his professional life, but points out how Smith discusses how much fear he felt throughout his life in his memoir.

Smith went on to specifically discuss the fear he felt when he witnessed his father attacking his mother when he was nine years old, reading a section from the first chapter of his memoir.

“It is terrifying to expose yourself to the world,” Smith said of writing the memoir. He also went on to say that the first time he spoke to his mother about the incident he witnessed as a child was in the writing of the book – they had never discussed it previously.

“It’s so cathartic to get it out,” he continued. “It can be physically debilitating to not say your truth out loud...the practice of being even able to say it out loud is freeing,” Smith explained.

“That self exploration, to be honest with yourself and to move out into your life, your relationships...with that honesty, is excruciating. But I would recommend it.

“My father would have never been able to bear the conversation,” Smith added, saying he didn’t think his father would have coped with him telling the story – hence why he chose to write it following his father’s death.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247, or visit their website here.

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 20:02

“I discovered performance. I was always trying to tell jokes"

Smith has opened up to Elba about the way he found escape from his childhood fears through performance.

“I escaped into my imagination,” Smith says, “which became this infinite playground where I could feel how I wanted to feel, where I could disappear into my a defence mechanism. I could create these worlds and spaces in my mind.”

“I discovered performance. I was always trying to tell jokes,” Smith says, explaining that he would use humour as a “defence” to keep his family happy when the relationship with his parents was faltering. “I desperately needed the situation to be joyful and fun,” he explained.

He went on to describe how marrying comedy with rap led to the birth of the Fresh Prince character who he became famed for performing in the Nineties.

“It was born in Philadelphia!” Smith laughed, before a bunch of photographs of Smith as a child were shared with the audience. “Someone is getting fired!” he joked.

Elizabeth Aubrey18 November 2021 20:16

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