‘Saw My Dad Hit My Mother’: Will Smith on Feeling Like a ‘Coward’ as a Child

Will Smith's episode opened with the message, 'The episode was recorded prior to the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony'.

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Will Smith was a guest on season 4 of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman and the actor talked about his life and career. Talking about his parents’ relationship, Will revealed why he felt like a ‘coward’ and also talked about why he never cursed in his songs.

About his memoir ‘Will’, the actor told Letterman, “The first line of the first chapter is, ‘I’ve always thought of myself as a coward,” adding, “When I was 9 years old, I saw my father beat up my mother, and I didn’t do anything. And that just left a traumatic impression of myself as a coward.”


Will Smith added, “Life is so exciting to me right now, because I can reach people differently than I’ve ever been able to reach people, largely because of my pain. I’m really ready to dive into my art in a way that I think will be hopefully fulfilling for me and helpful for the human family.”

He also opened up about how he hated being called a ‘soft rapper’ because he never used expletives in his songs. He revealed that the reason behind that is his grandmother who once told him that only ‘weak people’ curse to express themselves.


Smith also talked about the time he took a break from acting for two years. He revealed that he consumed the psychedelic Ayahuasca and after he came out of its effects, he believed that “safety is an illusion”.

“When I came out of it, I realized that anything that happens in my life, I can handle it. I can handle any person I lose. I can handle anything that goes wrong in my life. I can handle anything in my marriage,” Will Smith said.

The Letterman episode started with a title card that read, “The episode was recorded prior to the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony.” Several viewers were expecting that David Letterman and Will Smith would address the controversy at the Oscars 2022 when the actor had smacked comedian Chris Rock on stage for making a ‘joke’ about his wife Jada’s medical condition.

After the altercation at the Oscars, Smith had issued a public apology that read, "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally."

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Topics:  Will Smith   David Letterman 

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