Will Smith admitted in his autobiography that seeing his father attack his mother while he was a child had a major impact on his life. The Hollywood star said in his memoir, released last November, that being made to feel like a coward for not intervening became his “most violent trigger”.
Sunday night’s 94th Oscars ceremony was thrown into chaos when Smith went onstage and hit comedian comedian Chris Rock in front of a star-studded audience, after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss. Referring to Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, Rock said: “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2,” prompting the actress to roll her eyes.
However, Smith walked up on stage and appeared to hit Rock before returning to his seat and shouting twice: “Keep my wife’s name out of your ******* mouth.” The altercation left Rock shocked and flustered as he tried to resume presenting the best documentary feature category.
Smith went on to win his first Academy Award for King Richard. He apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock, as he collected his gong, joking that he “looks like the crazy father”. The Academy later said it had launched a “formal review” of the incident, condemning the actor’s behaviour.
In his autobiography Will, Smith said he “always thought of myself as a coward” for failing to intervene in his father’s beating of his mother, adding witnessing the attack as a nine-year-old “defined who I am today more than any other moment”. He said the episode “activated my most violent trigger: I’d been fighting all my life not to be a coward”, the Daily Mail reports.
Smith said his father Willard Smith Sr was a violent alcoholic. He said: “I watched my father punch my mother on the side of her head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood. That moment, in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment, has defined who I am today.
“Within everything I have done since then – the award 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. For failing her in that moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.”
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