The actor is in London for an in depth chat with Idris Elba
The night, ‘An Evening of Stories with Friends at the Savoy Theatre, London’, will see Smith open-up to Elba about his recent, candid memoir, Will.
A description of the evening adds: “For the first time, Will Smith opens up fully about his life, tracing his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned.”
Dit gaan voort: “Joined by special guests, this will be an unforgettable evening sharing the profound journey that self-knowledge brings, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind.”
The event has now begun and has seen Smith reflecting on his childhood with Elba, how he became the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, meeting Jazzy Jeff and how he coped with seeing domestic violence in his childhood.
Follow below for all the stories from the evening.
Will Smith recalls death of father
Will Smith has recalled hearing the news that his father had just “six weeks to live” in 2016.
“It is a really interesting thing when somebody knows they’re dying. Like all of the foolishness gets out of the way. Every hello maybe so rich, because we knew it was a gift…every goodbye was so deep and thorough…because we knew it could be the last one,” he recalled to Elba.
Smith recalls the pain of seeing how “frail” his father became and making peace with him at the end of his life.
“We shared a laugh,” Smith says, a few weeks before he received a final call from his father on Face Time.
“The soldier [was] gone [in him],” Smith remembered. “He’s trying to find one last piece of wisdom, [maar] he’s empty,” Smith said. “I could recognise that same scared little boy inside of him that was in me," hy het bygevoeg.
“What I learned was the real truth of what it means to love somebody [in that moment].”
Smith recalls his incredible audition for ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ with Quincy Jones
Will Smith has also recalled how he lost all his money a few years into his career after issues with his tax repayments.
“I was all the way back to broke,” Smith said, explaining that he had to start again from scratch.
On his road to recovery, he recalls meeting Quincy Jones who had invited him to his home.
“It was like the whose who of Hollywood,” he remembers when he arrived at Jones’ home, remembering how he was in the middle of his birthday party full of famous guests like Steven Spielberg.
Smith recalls how, in the middle of the meeting with Jones, he asked him to audition for a part “that was going to affect the rest of his life” – in front of all the other guests.
Smith was reluctant at first and asked Jones to give him a week to prepare, to which Jones told him that he must do it now as “everyone needed to make the decision to offer [you] the part is in the room.”
Smith responded: “And I just said “f*** it, give me ten minutes.”
“I did the audition to a standard ovation,” Smith says – and the same day he was offered the role in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Geoffrey Butler is in the audience!
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s Geoffrey Butler aka Joseph Marcell is in the audience.
He’s just gotten a huge shout out from Smith who is now recalling some fond memories from his time on the show.
It’s safe to say fans in the audience are happy.
“It was a spectacular time in my life,” Smith recalls.
Will delivers a rap to his son
As Will Smith and Idris Elba discuss fatherhood, Smith broke off to deliver a rap to his first born son Trey, interspersed with comments from his memoir.
Smith described how he was “overwhelmed with responsibility” after his son was born and how he prayed to god to “please help [him] do it right,” such was his anxiety about fatherhood after his own childhood experiences.
Will Smith recalls recording his first album with DJ Jazzy Jeff in London
Smith has recalled the time he came to London to record his first album with DJ Jazzy Jeff.
“It was the first thing I did in my life where I felt strong and I felt powerful,” Smith said of discovering and performing rap music.
“We recorded our first album at Battery Studios in London,” Smith remembered. “We stayed for three months in the Holiday Inn, Swiss Cottage,”Skerts hy, to laughs from the audience.
He recalls later signing with Jive Records and the influence DJ Jazzy Jeff had on his confidence and belief in himself.
“I discovered performance. I was always trying to tell jokes”
Smith has opened up to Elba about the way he found escape from his childhood fears through performance.
“I escaped into my imagination,” Smith says, “which became this infinite playground where I could feel how I wanted to feel, where I could disappear into my dreams…as a defence mechanism. I could create these worlds and spaces in my mind.”
“I discovered performance. I was always trying to tell jokes,” Smith says, explaining that he would use humour as a “defence” to keep his family happy when the relationship with his parents was faltering. “I desperately needed the situation to be joyful and fun,”Het hy verduidelik.
He went on to describe how marrying comedy with rap led to the birth of the Fresh Prince character who he became famed for performing in the Nineties.
“It was born in Philadelphia!” Smith laughed, before a bunch of photographs of Smith as a child were shared with the audience. “Someone is getting fired!” he joked.
“You strike me as someone who is fearless”
Idris Elba told Will Smith he comes across as “fearless” in his professional life, but points out how Smith discusses how much fear he felt throughout his life in his memoir.
Smith went on to specifically discuss the fear he felt when he witnessed his father attacking his mother when he was nine years old, reading a section from the first chapter of his memoir.
“It is terrifying to expose yourself to the world,” Smith said of writing the memoir. He also went on to say that the first time he spoke to his mother about the incident he witnessed as a child was in the writing of the book – they had never discussed it previously.
“It’s so cathartic to get it out,”Gaan hy voort. “It can be physically debilitating to not say your truth out loud…the practice of being even able to say it out loud is freeing,” Smith explained.
“That self exploration, to be honest with yourself and to move out into your life, your relationships…with that honesty, is excruciating. But I would recommend it.
“My father would have never been able to bear the conversation,” Smith added, saying he didn’t think his father would have coped with him telling the story.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, aan 0808 2000 247, or visit their website hier.
Will Smith opens up about his reasons for writing the memoir
Idris Elba asked Will Smith about his reasons for writing the memoir.
“This was the first time when I [felt I] experienced enough, suffered enough and solved enough problems in my life…in order for it to be helpful,” Smith said of his reasons for writing the memoir now.
“It was the first time I felt like I could say things with an earned emotional authority that I thought could be helpful.”
“My father died in 2016. There were things in my childhood that I never would have shared while he was alive,” Smith revealed.
“I felt handcuffed in a way that I couldn’t share my full truth.”
“He was one of the greatest men I’ ever known…but there were flaws.”
You can read more about Smith’s difficult relationship with his father here:
Smith has previously accused his father of being abusive towards his mother
Will Smith opens with a rap
Will Smith has taken to the stage at the Savoy Theatre in London with a rap – on a remix of “Will” – a Joyner Lucas song.
“You guys sound like you’re ready to have some fun tonight,” Smith shouted once he finished.
Idris Elba has now also joined him on stage. “I wanted to come out and rap too!” Elba joked.
Elba has thanked the crowd for buying all the tickets to the show “in two minutes.”
“This book is all of my blood, sweat, tears and emotional nakedness,” Smith said of his recent memoir.
Elba revealed that he’s only up to “chapter six” in the memoir so far.
“The book is incredible,” Elba said of what he’s read up to now.
The event will begin shortly
The event is due to begin shortly – stay tuned for updates from The Savoy theatre in London where Will Smith is in conversation with Luther actor Idris Elba.