Rapper-turned-actor Will Smith is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable megastars. Almost always a big-time box-office draw, his role versatility, good looks and polished look is signature. So signature and recognizable, the average person might just think that they know him.
But … they don’t.
With the release of the “Parents Just Don’t Understand” rapper’s new book, “Will,” fans get to see the core of what makes him a true star: his commitment to excellence at all costs.
Here are 10 things about Will Smith that one only learns from reading “Will.”
Will Smith’s first marriage ended because he fell in love with Rizzo from “Grease.”
In 1992, Smith starred in his first breakout film, “Six Degrees of Separation” alongside Stockard Channing. He was a newlywed husband to Sheree Zampino and a first-time daddy, welcoming the birth of his oldest son, Trey.
Will details biggest regret that caused his son, Jaden, to ask for emancipation.
Jaden Smith, as a young actor, had much success with the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) and a remake of “The Karate Kid” (2010). So when “After Earth” was a major letdown, with critics bashing the acting, Will claimed it was because of him.
According to Will, his son felt betrayed and wanted to emancipate himself.
His daughter Willow checked him about his idea of the perfect family and notes that ain’t them.
From the first chapter to the last, one great awareness that Smith continues to make is that his “fixed” image of what a family should be does not line up with the one that he actually has. When Willow Smith was 10, she expressed to her mom that the rosy-lens that her father saw his family through was just that.
“She told Jada, ‘Daddy has a picture of a family in his mind, and it’s not us.’ ”
Will Smith knew it was time to leave “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” when Alfonso Ribeiro’s character, Carlton, started carrying a gun.
With writers on board that smartly tapped around issues of race and class, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” struck a chord with America for years.
But toward the last season, as revealed in “Will,” the team lost touch with the pulse of the audience when Carlton began carrying a gun in season five, episode 15.
In his book, Will noted that this was the reason why he didn’t finish the sixth and final contracted season of the show. The show came to a close in 1996.
Will Smith thought about killing his father for abusing his mother.
Smith’s memoir starts off with a chapter titled, “Fear.” It talks about how his father whose name was William Carroll Smith Sr. gave him his first lessons on hard work and abuse.
“When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed,” he wrote. “I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am.”
No longer a child, he recalled the moment he thought to kill his father and how he could get away with it. “I’m Will Smith. No one would ever believe I killed my father on purpose. I’m one of the best actors in the world. My 911 call would be Academy Award level.”
Will Smith wanted to date his “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” co-star Karyn Parsons.
He recalled that his TV cousin Karyn Parsons “was smart enough to tell me ‘hell no’ when I tried to explain that we were not really cousins so it would be fine if we dated.”
He noted that he begged her, declaring he told her, “I swear it won’t mess up our working relationship.”
She did not go back on her decision. A now more mature man, he admitted that he now agrees with her decision, writing, “She knew better than that — good call KP).”
Will Smith almost choked to death when he first laid eyes on Jada Pinkett Smith.
While the book talks about a lot of dark experiences in his life and his marriage, there were some delightful notes about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. One of the most descriptive anecdotes, found in chapter 12, tells of what happened when he saw his now wife for the first time. The poor man almost died.
At the time, Pinkett Smith was auditioning for a role on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and he saw her hanging outside of the casting office.
She walked by and Smith forgot that he was eating. He penned graphically, “I damn near choked to death on my Roscoe’s chicken and waffles.”
And the rest was history.
Will Smith was jealous of Jada’s relationship with Tupac
Smith talked about his wife’s and Tupac’s childhood friendship, framing it as one of the most extraordinary platonic relationships of all time. However, their closeness made Smith uneasy and he became jealous of the “Hit ’em Up” rapper.
“I was in a room with Tupac on multiple occasions, but I never spoke to him. The way Jada loved ‘Pac rendered me incapable of being friends with him. I was too immature.”
Will Smith considered suicide when he was 13.
When his mother finally left his abusive father, he was 13, and became depressed. He didn’t feel abandoned because she moved a few blocks away, but he missed his mom.
“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,” he wrote. “But what kept ringing in my mind was a faint memory of hearing Gigi [Will’s grandmother] say that killing yourself was a sin.”
Will Smith paid up his father’s child support debt.
Upon his mother leaving his dad, she hit him with a $140,000 bill for backdated child support. Will was a grown man at this point and ended it up paying the child support bill due to his father not being able.
His mom found out and was “pissed.” She later, out of her own money, paid her son back.
At one point, Will Smith felt like throwing up after having sexual encounters with women.
In his memoir, according to Buzzfeed, Smith speaks candidly about his views on family, acting and how he treated various relationships he has had in his life. Some of the information that he reveals in the book is sure to shock fans who only see him as the squeaky-clean “A-lister” actor that they’ve come to know and love.
One revelation is that at 16 years old after his first serious girlfriend cheated on him, he went full “ghetto hyena” and had sex with so many women it made him want to “vomit.”
He shares in the book, “Up until this point in my life, I had only had sex with one woman other than Melanie. But over the next few months, I went full ghetto hyena.”
Smith continued, “I desperately needed relief but as there is no pill for heartbreak, I resorted to the homeopathic remedies of shopping and rampant sexual intercourse. I had sex with so many women, and it was so constitutionally disagreeable to the core of my being, that I developed a psychosomatic reaction to having an orgasm,” he said. “It would literally make me gag and sometimes even vomit.”
He would go on to say that he was looking for love in all the wrong places.
“In every case, though, I hoped to God this beautiful stranger would be ‘the one’ who would love me, who would make this pain go away,” he shared. “But invariably, there I was, retching and wretched. And the look in the eyes of the women even further deepened my agony.”
This repulsion to sex was short-lived.
Later in the book, he would recall how excitedly sexual his relationship with Jada was in the beginning.
He shared the “first three or four months were as wild a romantic whirlwind as our bodies could have possibly handled. We traveled to exotic secret getaways — Cabo, private Caribbean islands, Aspen, secluded estates in Maui — and we discovered private air travel. We drank every day, and had sex multiple times every day, for four straight months,” Smith wrote. “I started to wonder if this was a competition. Either way, as far as I was concerned, there were only two possibilities: (1) I was going to satisfy this woman sexually, or (2) I was going to die trying.”
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