Will Smith revealed that he has suffered from guilt because he believes he failed to protect his mother as a child when his father beat her to the ground in the family’s Philadelphia home.
The “Men in Black” star recounts the domestic abuse in his new book “Will” and called the traumatizing attack a defining moment, according to an excerpt of the book published in the Sunday Times.
“When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood,” Smith writes in his book that was released last Tuesday.
Smith’s father, Willard Carroll Smith Sr., and mother Caroline Bright eventually split when Smith was a teen and divorced in 2000 — but the effects of that one night at their home have lingered on.
“Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and the attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day,” Smith says.
“For failing her in that moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.”
In his deeply emotional analysis of the incident, Smith reflects on his indecision to intervene.
“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.
“How we decide to respond to our fears, that is the person we become,” he writes.
“I decided to be funny. I wanted to please and placate him because as long as Daddio was laughing and smiling, I believed we would be safe. I was the entertainer in the family. I wanted to keep everything light and fun and joyful.”
Smith’s father died in 2016.
The actor has recently been transparent with his personal life and some of the struggles he’s endured.
He admitted recently to having suicidal thoughts while filming a YouTube series about fitness and weight loss and has been airing the inner workings of his open marriage with wife Jada Pinkett.
Smith revealed in September that his own personal conception of polyamory at one point was “a harem of girlfriends” including Halle Berry and Misty Copeland.