There’s a very important disclaimer that appears at the beginning of David Letterman’s new interview with Will Smith in season four of his Netflix series My next guest needs no introduction: “This episode was filmed before the 2022 Oscars.”
Netflix and Letterman tell viewers that there will be no explicit questions or answers about Smith, who infamously beats comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the Oscars earlier this year. Since the new season’s release on Netflix, Smith has still not spoken publicly about the incident, which has increased his life and career, with several upcoming projects currently underway.
And yet, through the almost hour-long conversation, there are moments that come out very different than they would have had if Smith’s lifelike persona were still intact.
Early in the interview, Letterman described the experience of having Smith on his old one Sen Show like watching a “locomotive” come into the studio, “but you tell people it’s not exactly who you are.”
‘Words only hurt if you’ve never been hit in the face:’ Chris Rock takes on Will Smith Smack
“There’s a person you want to be and a person you want to be seen as,” Smith explained. “And then there’s who you really are.” As echoing the first line of the self-titled memoir he published last year, Smith said, “I have always thought of myself as a coward.”
The actor talks about the experience of being nine years old and watching his father beat his mother. “And I did nothing,” he said. “And it just left a traumatic impression of myself as a coward.”
Smith went on to say that when he discovered comedy, he came to realize that “negativity can not exist inside a human body when you laugh,” and he began using comedy as a “defense mechanism.”
“Eventually, ‘Will Smith’ became a symbol of joy and fun, and when I showed up, I wanted people to be happy,” he told Letterman, “because I found out that when my household was like that, , I felt safe. “
Not only has Smith’s image as a “symbol of joy and fun” perhaps been irreparably damaged by his actions at the Oscars, but it is also striking that these actions were a direct attack on the comedy itself, the medium he says was his way of surviving. a violent household.
Later in the section, there are several moments that play out differently in a post-slap world. At one point, Letterman innocently refers to Smith’s mother, and the actor jokingly says, “Say nothing about my mother, Dave,” before pretending he wants to fight the 75-year-old host right there on stage.
In another scene, Smith shares experiences from his training in playing Muhammad Ali by demonstrating how you know when someone is about to hit you. “Show me that, but don’t hit me,” jokes Letterman.
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When someone drops their right foot back, it’s “how do you know he’s preparing to sneak the shot,” Smith explains. Smith then strikes a false blow at Letterman, who replies, “Oh Jesus! That was scary. Don’t do it again.”
At the end of the interview, Smith tells the host: “Life is so exciting for me right now because I can reach people differently than I have ever been able to reach people, mainly because of my pain. I am really ready to dive into my art in a way that I think will hopefully be satisfying for me and useful to the human family. ”
Now the only question is whether Hollywood will give him the chance to move on.
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