Inside Will Smith’s troubled relationship with his father

Will Smith has spoken at length about his upbringing, which is very different from his children’s upbringing. During a conversation on Will Smith: An Evening of Stories with Friends, the Philadelphia native recalled feeling speechless and vowed never to transfer those emotions to his children. “Because of my childhood, because of the way I was raised … I didn’t care how I felt, so I sure as hell didn’t care how anyone else felt,” Smith said (via People). “My feelings played no role in my childhood home. You did what you were told.”

Smith became even more open about his childhood when he appeared on an episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s show Red Table Talk. During the emotional chat, the ‘I Am Legend’ actor explained that he’s a ‘gentle kid’ but admits he grew up in ‘a household where physical aggression was sanctioned’. Smith went on to explain that the violence perpetuated by his father changed their relationship forever.

Will Smith once considered killing his father

Will Smith went deeper into his relationship with his father Willard Smith Sr. in his 2021 memoir Will. In the book, the Oscar winner revealed that he once contemplated killing his father after seeing his mother being physically abused for years. Smith writes about a horrifying incident at the age of nine in which his father violently assaulted his mother, Caroline Bright.

“When I was nine, I watched my father hit my mother in the head so hard she collapsed. I saw her spitting up blood,” Smith recalled in an excerpt made available to People. Smith went on to explain that after his parents separated and he began caring for his ailing father, thoughts of “avenging” his mother began to fester. “As a child, I always told myself that one day I would avenge my mother. If I were big enough, if I were strong enough, if I wasn’t a coward anymore, I would kill him,” he wrote. Adding, “I stopped at the top of the stairs. I could push him off and get away with it easily.”

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Despite his difficult upbringing, Smith admitted he always looked up to his father. “What’s been really difficult for me is that my dad is my hero,” he told Today. Smith Sr. died in 2016 after a battle with cancer.

Will Smith hinted at his trauma amid his Oscar controversy

After the shocking altercation at the 2022 Oscars, in which Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, the ‘King Richard’ star accepted his first Oscar. During his acceptance speech, Smith referenced his desire to “protect” his family. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. At this time in my life, at this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is asking me to do and be in this world,” Smith said. Adding, “I am called in my life to love people and to protect people.”

Smith further elaborated on his trauma and how it has guided his moral compass in an apology to Rock released July 29. “Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate disappointing people,” the actor said. Additionally, Smith stated that he does not condone the use of physical force as a means of dealing with “disrespect.”