The fourth season of longtime late-night TV host David Letterman’s Netflix show premiered Friday only further suggesting that actor Will Smith was a ticking time bomb that comedian Chris Rock inadvertently set off at the Oscars in March.
In the second episode of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman,” Smith sat down for an interview where he expressed concerns about being able to “protect your family” and how he has always thought of himself “as a coward.” However, one caveat made clear from the get-go was that the discussion happened before the 94th Academy Awards when Smith slapped Rock over a poorly received joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
“This episode was recorded prior to the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony,” a title card reads as the on-demand episode begins streaming. Shortly thereafter, Smith brought up the opening of his memoir “Will” released in November 2021.
“The first line of the first chapter is, ‘I’ve always thought of myself as a coward.’ When I was, you know, nine years old,” he explained, “I saw my father beat up my mother and I didn’t do anything. And that just left a traumatic impression of myself as a coward.”
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In a previous conversation that revealed some of the controversial differences in Smith’s view of his relationship with Pinkett Smith, the actor explained, “There wasn’t a day in my life that I wanted anything other than being married and having a family. From literally five years old, I was picturing what my family would be.”
Now, as a father of three, Smith expressed some of the revelations that he has had, “You can’t protect your family, right? That’s not real. 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?”
At one point, he also revealed a bit of his hostility when he said to Letterman, “Don’t say nothin’ ’bout my mother, Dave.”
Despite the eventual assault at the award ceremony that would see the Best Actor Award winner for his performance in “King Richard” publicly apologizing, resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and ultimately being banned from the proceeding for a decade, the discussion was not solely focused on negativity.
“My experiences and my life, and the writing of this book have unlocked a part of me, as an actor, that is like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Smith told Letterman.
He later added, “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. 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.”
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