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Will Smith’s Letterman Interview Hits Different Post-Oscar Slaps


There’s a very important disclaimer that appears at the start of David Letterman’s new interview with Will Smith about season four of his Netflix series. My next guest needs no introduction: “This episode was filmed before the 2022 Oscars ceremony.”

Netflix and Letterman are telling viewers there will be no explicit questions or answers about infamous comedian Smith slapping Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the Oscars earlier this year. As the new season premieres on Netflix, Smith has yet to speak publicly about the incident that turned his life and career upside down, with several upcoming projects shelved for the time being.

And yet, throughout the nearly hour-long conversation, there are moments that play out very differently than they would if Smith’s fun personality were still intact.

At the start of the interview, Letterman described the experience of having Smith on his old Last show like watching a “locomotive” come into the studio, “but you tell people that’s not exactly who you are.”

“Words only hurt if you’ve never been punched 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.” Echoing the first line of the self-titled memoir he published last year, Smith said, “I always thought of myself as a coward.”

The actor recounts the experience of being nine years old and watching his father beat his mother. “And I didn’t do anything,” 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 realized that “negativity cannot exist inside a human body when you laugh”, and he started using comedy. as a “defense mechanism”.

“Ultimately, ‘Will Smith’ became a symbol of joy and fun, and when I arrived I wanted people to be happy,” he told Letterman, “because I discovered that when my house was like this, I felt safe.”

Not only may Smith’s image as a “symbol of joy and fun” have been irreparably damaged by his actions at the Oscars, but it’s also striking that those actions were a direct attack on comedy itself. , the medium he believed was his way of surviving. an abusive household.

Later in the episode there are more moments that play differently in a post-slap world. At one point, Letterman makes an innocuous reference to Smith’s mother, and the actor jokingly says, “Don’t say anything about my mother, Dave,” before claiming he’s going to fight the 75 host. years right there on the organize.

In another scene, Smith shares lessons from his training to play Muhammad Ali by demonstrating how you know when someone is about to punch you. “Show me that, but don’t hit me,” Letterman jokes.

Will Smith traveled to India for post-slap meditation, report says

When someone releases their right foot back, that’s “how you know they’re getting ready to sneak in,” Smith says. Smith then throws a fake punch at Letterman, who responds, “Oh Jesus! It was scary. Don’t do that again.

At the end of the interview, Smith told the host, “Life is so exciting for me right now because I can reach people differently than I’ve ever been able to, in large part because of my pain. I am truly willing to dive into my art in a way that I hope will be fulfilling for me and useful for the human family.

Now the only question is whether Hollywood will give him the chance to move on.

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