Will Smith calls himself a "coward" in revealing pre-slap interview

Los Angeles, California - Will Smith addressed his childhood trauma in a revealing interview with David Letterman before his shocking Oscars slap against Chris Rock.

Will Smith addressed his childhood trauma with David Letterman before his shocking Oscars slap with Chris Rock.
Will Smith addressed his childhood trauma with David Letterman before his shocking Oscars slap with Chris Rock.  © Robyn Beck/AFP

Before his wild and viral moment at the 2022 Oscars, the I Am Legend star dished on his life and career.

Will's appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman debuted on Friday.

The episode was recorded months before the slap incident, and the 53-year-old actor spoke on what matters most to him: family.

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He particularly highlighted his parents, whose sordid and abusive relationship he's often spoken about.

"The first line of the first chapter is,
I’ve always thought of myself as a coward," Will explained to Letterman.

"When I was nine years old, I saw my father beat up my mother, and I didn’t do anything. And that just left a traumatic impression of myself as a coward," he said.

But his comments only got more revealing from there.

Will's harrowing past comes full circle after Oscar slap

Will (l) has had a fall from grace after assaulting Rock (r) on stage at the 2022 Oscars over a joke regarding his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith (c).
Will (l) has had a fall from grace after assaulting Rock (r) on stage at the 2022 Oscars over a joke regarding his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith (c).  © ROBYN BECK, ANGELA WEISS/AFP

Will continued his train of thought with the TV host.

"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."

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Ironically, Will also spoke to Letterman about defending his family. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum also noted that he realized at one point in his life that the "material world is completely, utterly, and totally incapable of sustaining our happiness."

"You can’t protect your family, right?" Will said.

"That’s not real. Protection and safety is an illusion. You have to learn to live with the reality that any moment, anything can be gone in one second."

"So with that reality, how can you be here? And how can you be joyful and be here?" he added.

Will's newly released interview comes after his fall from grace following the post-slap controversy, which led to the star being banned from attending the Academy Awards ceremony for 10 years.

Currently, the rapper has taken a break from the public eye and was reportedly in India on a "spiritual journey."

Cover photo: Robyn Beck/AFP

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