Due to be released next week, the self-titled book sees the 53-year-old actor reflecting on parts of his life and childhood — including an incident that, as he recounts, led to him considering killing his own father.
If you didn’t know, Will had a turbulent relationship with his father, Will Smith Sr., due to the man's “violent” behavior and alcohol use. However, the two still remained close, until his eventual death from cancer in 2016.
“My father was violent, but he was also at every game, play, and recital,” he writes. "He was an alcoholic, but he was sober at every premiere of every one of my movies."
“He listened to every record,” he continues. "He visited every studio. The same intense perfectionism that terrorized his family put food on the table every night of my life."
“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 writes. "I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am."
Will says in the excerpt that he has been haunted by guilt for “failing to stand up” to his father ever since.
“Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day," he says. "For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward."
He adds: “What you have come to understand as 'Will Smith,' the alien-annihilating MC, the bigger-than-life movie star, is largely a construction — a carefully crafted and honed character — designed to protect myself. To hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.”
Yet, despite maintaining a close relationship with his father following his childhood, Will — whose parents separated during his teenage years — went on to recall a night that occurred decades later while he cared for Will Smith Sr., where the years of “pain, anger, and resentment coursed then receded.”
“One night, as I delicately wheeled [my father] from his bedroom toward the bathroom, a darkness arose within me," he writes. "The path between the two rooms goes past the top of the stairs. As a child I'd always told myself that I would one day avenge my mother. That when I was big enough, when I was strong enough, when I was no longer a coward, I would slay him."
“I paused at the top of the stairs. I could shove him down, and easily get away with it,” he writes. “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.”
“As the decades of pain, anger, and resentment coursed then receded, I shook my head and proceeded to wheel Daddio to the bathroom,” he adds.
Reflecting on his relationship with his father following his death, Will writes, “There is nothing that you can receive from the material world that will create inner peace or fulfillment.”
“In the end, it will not matter one single bit how well [people] loved you — you will only gain 'the Smile' based on how well you loved them,” he writes.
Will remained in character as Paul Poitier — whose love interest was portrayed by Stockard — even while off set, which blurred the lines between reality and fiction.
“Sheree and I were in the first few months of our marriage with a brand-new baby, and for Sheree, I can imagine that this experience was unsettling to say the least,” he writes. “She'd married a guy named Will Smith and now she was living with a guy named Paul Poitier. And to make matters worse, during shooting I fell in love with Stockard Channing.”
“Our marriage was off to a rocky start,” he goes on. "I found myself desperately yearning to see and speak to Stockard."
This isn’t the first time Will has been open about his personal life and childhood in recent months.
Speaking to his family, Will described an undisclosed event as “the only time in [his] life that [he] considered suicide.” The six-part series will be released on YouTube next week.
Months prior, Will had opened up about “hiding his true self from the world” and his experience journeying to “find happiness” throughout his career.
In a candid interview with GQ back in September, Will detailed the “first tiny taste of freedom” he experienced during his 50s, where he “gave [himself] the freedom to do whatever [he] wanted to do.”
Speaking of his travels to Peru for several ayahuasca rituals, Will — who had never smoked marijuana and barely drank alcohol — likened the experience to ”the unparalleled greatest feeling” he’d ever had.
“I totally opened myself up to what, I think, was a fresh sampling of the fruits of the human experience,” he said.