Will Smith opens up about childhood trauma, Janet Hubert on ‘RTT’
The actor admits he used to rely on money and power to provide a sense of personal security
Will Smith reflected on his nearly 30 year feud with ex ‘Fresh Prince’ co-star Janet Hubert on the latest episode of Red Table Talk.
Joined by Dr. Ramani Durvasula, the global superstar opened up about his childhood trauma and how it contributed to his decades-long beef with Hubert. During their candid conversation, Smith also explained why he decided to seek healing with the actress.
“We had a [The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air] cast reunion. I wanted us to seek healing and I knew the first phase of that healing was me understanding what she experienced, so I asked Janet to sit down with me, and Dr. Ramani was on set with us that day in case Janet or I needed assistance to be able to make our way through. After 27 plus years, this was the first time that we ever sat down,” Smith explained.
Smith confessed that at the height of his ‘Fresh Prince’ fame, he felt compelled to make others laugh due to his own insecurities stemming from the trauma of having an abusive father. Working alongside the uber-talented Hubert made him feel like a little boy desperately needing her approval.
As theGrio previously reported, the actress revealed during the reunion taping for the 30th anniversary special that she “lost so much” after leaving the beloved comedy series. She was forced out after Smith allegedly sabatoged her contract negotiations. His petty antics were motivated by her not laughing at his jokes. The duo would spend the next 27 years embattled in a bitter feud, with Hubert claiming Smith ruined her career by having her blacklisted in Hollywood.
“I’d been banished and they said it was you who banished me because I didn’t laugh at your jokes,” Hubert said on RTT. “Then, they ordered me to stay in my room. I couldn’t come out on the stage, and I wasn’t unprofessional on the set. I just stopped talking to everybody because I didn’t know who to trust and the whole negotiation thing was messed up. You guys offered something I had to turn down and I was like, ‘Why?’” she continued.
“Absolutely,” Smith replied. “I just swear [that] my 21-year-old eyes could only see that I felt like you hated me.”
When Hubert asked if Smith was intimidated by her, the actor confessed that at the time, he was scared of the world.
“I didn’t realize the power of my words and how that would affect you and went way too far and said things to people that wouldn’t know how to hold that information,” Smith said. “And then, once you put it in, the machine grabs it then they start putting their own spin on it. It was all way too far on my end. When I look back now, it’s obvious that you were having a hard time,” he explained.
“So my father was violent in my house. So a part of the whole creation of Will Smith, the joking, [the] fun, [the] silly, was to make sure that my father was entertained enough not to hurt my mother or anybody in the house. Right? So, that plucks a childhood space of inadequacy and when someone comes at me like that, the little boy is fully in that space and I would perform and dance and tell jokes, right? People laughing and people having fun was my defense mechanism. I realize the other side of it was, if I cut you bad enough, you wouldn’t be able to respond.” he continued.
During his time as the Fresh Prince, Smith admits he was arrogant and relied on money and power to provide a sense of personal safety.
Watch Smith’s full Red Table Talk episode above.
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