The actor blamed himself when his son was panned by film critics for their film ‘After Earth.’
Will Smith opens up in his new memoir WILL about feeling like a failure as a father when his youngest son, Jaden Smith, asked to be emancipated at age 15.
The father-son conversation occurred amid the box office failure of the pairâ€™s 2013 science-fiction adventure After Earth. Smith blamed himself when his son was panned by film critics.
â€œAfter Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure,â€� Smith writes. â€œAnd what was worse was that Jaden took the hit. Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that Iâ€™d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling heâ€™d ever experienced.â€�
Smith admits he was heartbroken when his son asked to be emancipated at 15-years-old.Â
â€œWe never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership,â€� writes Smith. â€œAt fifteen years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like youâ€™ve hurt your kids.â€�
In After Earth, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, a thousand years after cataclysmic events forced humanityâ€™s escape from Earth, Nova Prime has become mankindâ€™s new home. General Cypher Raige (Smith) returns from an extended tour of duty to his estranged family, ready to be a father to his 13-year-old son, Kitai (played by Jaden Smith).
The Chicago Tribuneâ€™s Richard Roeper unceremoniously christened it â€œone of the worst films of 2013,â€� as theGrio previously reported. After Earth was also named worst movie of 2013 in poll results released by Rifftrax.com.
Though panned by critics and the press, After Earth reportedly grossed $243.8 million at the box office.
Elsewhere in Smithâ€™s memoir, the superstar details his troubled childhood and complicated relationship with his late father, Willard Carroll Smith Sr., who the actor describes as a â€œviolentâ€� man.
Smith recounts an incident involving his father that left him so enraged that he considered killing him, theGrio previously reported.
â€œWhen 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. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am,â€� he writes.
Smith has since carried tremendous guilt for failing to protect his mother.
â€œWithin everything that I have done since then â€” the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs â€” there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day. For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.â€�
He continues, â€œWhat you have come to understand as â€˜Will Smith,â€™ the alien-annihilating MC, the bigger-than-life movie star, is largely a construction â€“ a carefully crafted and honed character â€“ designed to protect myself. To hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.â€�
The anger from his childhood reached a boiling point when Smith found himself contemplating murder as he cared for Will Sr. during his battle with cancer.
â€œOne night, as I delicately wheeled him from his bedroom toward the bathroom, a darkness arose within me. The path between the two rooms goes past the top of the stairs. As a child Iâ€™d always told myself that I would one day avenge my mother. That when I was big enough, when I was strong enough, when I was no longer a coward, I would slay him,â€� Smith writes.
â€œI paused at the top of the stairs. I could shove him down, and easily get away with it. As the decades of pain, anger, and resentment coursed then receded, I shook my head and proceeded to wheel Daddio to the bathroom.â€�
Smithâ€™s memoir WILL drops on Nov. 9.
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