Will Smith is getting very honest about his feelings of jealousy during the early stages of his relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith — and particularly how he felt toward her friendship with Tupac Shakur.
If you didn’t know, Jada and Tupac — who was killed in a shooting in 1996 — shared an exceptionally close friendship. The two attended the Baltimore School for the Arts together and quickly became inseparable after connecting over their shared passion for theatrical arts.
Despite years of speculation around whether or not there was more to their friendship, both Jada and Tupac confirmed several times that things between them were platonic. In 2017, Jada revealed that she and Tupac had gotten into a “hardcore” fight before his death, and weren't speaking when he was killed.
Now, in his newly released memoir, Will has weighed in on how their friendship impacted him, admitting that he felt “tortured” by the bond that Jada and Tupac shared.
“In the beginning of our relationship, my mind was tortured by their connection,” Will writes. “He was 'PAC! and I was me … though they were never intimate, their love for each other is legendary.”
Will writes that he felt jealous of Tupac’s “fearless passion” and “militant morality,” which he would compare to his own inability to stand up to his father — with whom Will shared a turbulent relationship, due to his father's pattern of “violent” behavior and alcohol use.
As a result, Will writes, he felt insecure and cowardly against the late rapper. What’s more, Will compares Tupac to his younger brother Harry, who would often stand up to their abusive father, noting that he felt inadequate in comparison to both.
“[Tupac] was like Harry,” he writes. “[He] triggered the perception of myself as a coward. … I hated that I wasn't what he was in the world, and I suffered a raging jealousy: I wanted Jada to look at me like that.”
Will goes on to share that he felt an odd happiness when his and Jada’s relationship began to progress, meaning she’d spend less time with Tupac — which he called a “twisted kind of victory.”
“If she chose me over Tupac, there was no way I could be a coward,” he writes. “I have rarely felt more validated. 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.”
This isn’t the first time Will has spoken about his feelings of insecurity over Jada and Tupac’s friendship. Just last year, the actor admitted he could “never open up” around the late rapper, in a candid interview with The Breakfast Club.
“I could never open up to interact with Pac,” Will said. “You know, because we had a little bit of a thing. You know, they grew up together and they loved each other, but they never had ... a sexual relationship.”
“I was so Jealous of Pac that it kept me from ever even speaking to him,” he captioned an Instagram post from the interview.
Despite the early days of jealousy, Will and Jada’s relationship progressed, and the two were married in 1997. Ever since, the Hollywood couple — who now share two children, Jaden, 23, and Willow, 20 — have been very open about their tumultuous relationship.
Perhaps most notably, Jada and Will attracted a ton of attention last July after they publicly addressed rumors of infidelity in their marriage, during an episode of Red Table Talk.
The rumors circulated after singer August Alsina said he'd had a relationship with Jada in 2015 — with Will’s permission. He alleged: “I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation. Due to the transformation from their marriage to life partnership that they have spoken on several times, and not involving romanticism, he gave me his blessing.”
Before Jada addressed her relationship with August, she and Will revealed that they’d actually separated indefinitely at the time — after which she’d found herself in an “entanglement” with August. Jada later clarified that this had been a romantic relationship.
Earlier this year, Will publicly commented on his and Jada’s relationship for the first time since this discussion — revealing that both of them have, with mutual agreement, engaged in other sexual relationships outside of the marriage.
Speaking with GQ, Will admitted that he and Jada held conflicting opinions on monogamy due to their different upbringings, which had rocked their relationship at various points.
“Jada never believed in conventional marriage … Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship,” Will said. “So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up.”
“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way,” he added. “And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. ... But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”