Will Smith put pen to paper to tell his life story in his book Will, which detailed his difficult early years growing up in Philadelphia and witnessing domestic violence at home when his father beat his mother.
In a new interview on David Letterman’s Netflix series “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” Smith said his traumatic childhood prompted him to put on a cheery public persona.
He explained: “When I showed up, I wanted people to feel good and be happy. Because I found that when my household was that way, I felt safe.”
Smith went on to reveal he felt that combing over his past helped him improve as an actor.
He added: “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. 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.”
The interview was recorded prior to the 2022 Academy Awards in February when Will stormed onstage and slapped host Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in King Richard, but later resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts Sciences and was handed a 10-year ban.