Will Smith had a vision of losing his career before the shocking slap of Chris Rock during this year’s Oscars, according to a new interview taped prior to the infamous incident.
Smith is featured as part of David Letterman’s Netflix series, ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,’ where the Academy Award recipient delves into his music career, pressures of being in the spotlight, and more.
During the lengthy episode, Letterman told Smith that his “first awareness” of him as a star came during his early collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff, approximately 12 minutes into the interview. Letterman emphasized Smith’s use of humour in his music as one his qualities at the time.
In response, Smith said: “That was really our major distinguishing quality at the time. It was comedy, it was punchlines, it was fun. We stood out in a really a good way.”
Letterman then asked the 53-year-old whether he’s ever felt pressured to ditch that particular style, to which Smith opened up about hating being labeled “soft” throughout his career.
“Not pressure as much as it was always that I was ‘soft,’” Smith said. “Dave, I hated that, being called soft. The origin of my style and why I pursued it in that way [is] when I was about 12, my grandmother, she found my first rap book.” In that composition book, Smith recalled, he had kept lyrics, some of which featured perceived profanities.
“I couldn’t even curse well,” he jokingly stated. “It was like, ‘Shit ass damn/Will, you the man.’ Not even good cursing. My grandmother found my rap book and wrote a letter in [the] front of my book and said, ‘Dear Willard, truly intelligent people do not have to use words like these to express themselves. Please show the world that you’re as smart as we think you are. Love, Gigi.’ And that was the reason I never cursed in any of my records.”
Following the success of his 2007 film “I Am Legend,” Smith admitted to realizing that his dedication to success was unhealthy, and decided to go 14 days without talking to “see the madness of what was going on inside (his) head.”
He said, “I had been to the top of all material mountains. I wanted to be the best but I correlated being the best with having the love in my life that would make me feel safe.”
Adding, “I think it’s the natural journey of humanity, when we realize that the material world is completely, utterly and totally incapable of sustaining our happiness.”
He then came to the realization that “anything can be gone in one second.
“So with that worldview, how can you be here? And how can you be joyful and be here?”
Soon after, Smith began a two-year sabbatical and went on a spiritual quest, during which Smith claimed he took ayahuasca, a psychedelic substance recognized for its spiritual and therapeutic properties, 14 times during that period, which he described as the “individual most hellish psychological experience of my life.”
“All of a sudden, it’s like I start seeing all of my money flying away,” he recalled.
“And my house is flying away. And my career is going away,” he continued. “And I’m trying to, like, grab for my money and my career. My whole life is getting destroyed.”
Click here to watch the full interview on Netflix.
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