Will Smith is sharing details about his father's physically abusive nature.
The actor opened up about the violence he experienced during his childhood years for a recent profile for GQ, which included passages from his new memoir. The topic initially came about when journalist Wesley Lowery mentioned Smith's upcoming role in "King Richard," which sees him play Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Smith explained that there were similarities between Richard Williams, who was known to be tough on his daughters, and his own father.
"When I first read the script, I understood what it’s like to want your kids to succeed," hesaid.
The "Men in Black" star later circled back to his father, recalling watching him punch his mother in the side of the head. In his memoir, Smith wrote that the moment "defined who I am today." His father was "one of the greatest blessings of my life, and also one of my greatest sources of pain," he added.
Writing on behalf of Smith, Lowery recounted that fateful day his father attacked his mother.
"His [Smith] brother jumped up, trying to intervene. His sister fled, hiding in her bedroom. Smith remembers freezing, too scared to do anything," Lowery wrote. "Smith never discussed the violence with his father, who championed his son’s career until he died in 2016."
Smith refrained from mentioning "stuff about my father beating up my mother" until his father died, explaining that it was not something he would have been able to discuss if his father were still alive. Smith later spoke about the physical abuse with his mother for the first time when they met to discuss the memoir.
"It was literally the first time we ever discussed it," he said. "She had never heard my perception of what happened. So it was really cathartic in a way. It went great. But it was a brutal couple of weeks, man. It was brutal."
Smith previously spoke about his abusive father in 2020, during an episode of Facebook Watch's "Red Table Talk."
"My father was violent in my house," Smith said, according to Today. "So a part of the whole creation of Will Smith — the joking, fun, silly — was to make sure that my father was entertained enough not to hurt my mother or anybody in the house."
Smith said that, as a result, he learned unhealthy coping mechanisms and for years would interpret a woman's disapproval as a loss of love, but he has managed to work on healing that through the positive relationships with his own family.
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