Will Smith says Jada Pinkett Smith’s memoir ‘woke him up’

Click to play video: 'Moment: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on-stage after Oscars joke about wife’s hairstyle'
Moment: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on-stage after Oscars joke about wife’s hairstyle
After presenter Chris Rock made a joke about Will Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hairstyle during the 2022 Oscars, Smith stood up from his seat near the stage, strode up to Rock and slapped him during the live show – Mar 28, 2022

Despite being together for nearly 30 years, Will Smith says he was still “shocked and stunned” after reading Jada Pinkett Smith’s tell-all book Worthy.

The memoir, which comes out Tuesday, has generated significant media buzz after Pinkett Smith, 52, revealed key details about her relationship with husband Smith, 55, and the context surrounding the infamous Oscars slap while promoting its release.

In an email to the New York Times published Saturday, Smith said the book “kind of woke him up.”

“When you’ve been with someone for more than half of your life,” he wrote, “a sort of emotional blindness sets in, and you can all too easily lose your sensitivity to their hidden nuances and subtle beauties.”

Smith and Pinkett Smith have been married since 1997 after first meeting on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Story continues below advertisement

Smith told the Times that his wife “had lived a life more on the edge” than he realized, and she is “more resilient, clever and compassionate than he’d understood.”

While promoting Worthy, Pinkett Smith revealed to People that her parents were addicted to drugs during her childhood, and her father was absent and occasionally violent. In a bid for financial freedom when she was a teen, Pinkett Smith said she worked a number of jobs in retail and in telemarketing, as well as selling drugs.

“I’m not saying that it’s right, of course,” Pinkett Smith told People. “But I wanted money so that I could be independent. I wanted to take care of myself.”

She described growing up in the 1980s in Baltimore as “living in a war zone” in which everyone’s lives were affected by drugs.

Smith gave more of his opinions on the memoir in a letter, read aloud on an episode of the podcast On Purpose with Jay Shetty.

“I just turned the final page of Worthy,” Smith wrote. “It is amazing to realize that despite having lived most of my life by your side, I still found myself shocked and stunned and caught off guard, laughing, then inspired, then heartbroken. I was all over the place.

“It’s one thing to hear anecdotes at a family barbecue, but it was truly overwhelming to take in your story, potently condensed in this way,” he continued. “You are one of one — a rare blend of power and delicate sensitivity.

Story continues below advertisement

“I know it wasn’t easy to excavate the depths in that way. I applaud and honor you,” he wrote. “If I had read this book 30 years ago, I definitely would have hugged you more. I’ll start now. Welcome to the Authors Club. I love you endlessly. Now go get some merlot and take a rest.”

With a laugh, Pinkett Smith responded that her husband knows she can’t drink merlot.

“That’s beautiful. That’s why I can’t divorce that joker,” she said.

Pinkett Smith earlier revealed to People, and in an interview with NBC’s Hoda Kotb, that she and Smith have been separated since 2016.

“It was not a divorce on paper,” Kotb clarified in a televised interview.

Story continues below advertisement

“Right,” Pinkett Smith responded.

“…but it was a divorce,” Kotb said.

“Divorce,” Pinkett Smith emphasized.

While chatting with Kotb, Pinkett Smith also discussed “the slap heard around the world” when Smith hit comedian Chris Rock in the face during the 2022 Oscars ceremony. Rock had made a G.I. Jane joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, which angered Smith. The Matrix Reloaded actor suffers from alopecia, which can cause hair loss.

After slapping Rock, Smith yelled at him to “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–-ing mouth!”

Click to play video: 'Moment: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on-stage after Oscars joke about wife’s hairstyle'
Moment: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on-stage after Oscars joke about wife’s hairstyle

Pinkett Smith said she was shocked by the whole incident.

“We haven’t called each other husband and wife in a long time. I’m like, ‘What is going on right now?'”

Story continues below advertisement

Immediately after the slap, while snippets for the best documentary nominees were being shown, Pinkett Smith said Rock came up to her to apologize.

“Chris looks to me and he says, ‘Jada, I meant no harm,’” she recalls. “I’m just out of it because I’m really worried about Will. And Will’s still talking. Now he’s mad because Chris is talking to me.”

“And I go, ‘Chris, this is about some old s–t.’ That’s all I could think of saying, right? And I couldn’t really take in his apology.”

According to Pinkett Smith, she and Rock have a long history together. She told People that Rock asked her out on a date while rumours were swirling that she and Smith were headed for divorce.

“I think every summer, all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce. And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce,” she said.

“So he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No. Chris, those are just rumours.’ He was appalled. And he profusely apologized, and that was that.”

As for Smith’s motivations on Oscar night in 2022, he explained in an interview that took place shortly after the jaw-dropping ceremony that there were “many nuances and complexities” as to why he slapped Rock.

Story continues below advertisement

“But at the end of the day, I just — I lost it.”

Rock, so far, has not responded publicly to Smith’s memoirs or claims.

Sponsored content