Will Smith was heartbroken when the 2013 film After Earth turned out to be a flop. It wasn’t so much of a devastating experience for Smith. He, after all, had years of experience in show business and, therefore, understood the nature of marketing and the uncertainty of box office sales. Will’s son, Jaden Smith, did not fully comprehend the viciousness of the press at the time, though.
“After Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure,” Smith shares in his forthcoming book, Will. “And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit,” Smith continues. “Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat,” Will reveals. “Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.”
The backlash for After Earth’s failure was strong. Jaden inquired about emancipation months after the experience.
“We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed,” Will shares in his book. “He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership,” the celebrity father adds. “At 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 you’ve hurt your kids.”
Will Smith learned a few lessons from his After Earth experience with Jaden. The celebrity father applied them when processing his daughter Willow Smith’s decision to shave her head after expressing a desire to back away from promoting her hit single, ‘Whip My Hair.’ Will was initially surprised by the drastic decision but ultimately understood Willow’s perspective.
“My jaw nearly dislocated, dislodged, and shattered on the kitchen floor: My world-dominating, hair-whipping, future global superstar was totally bald,” Will writes in his book. “During the night, Willow had shaved her entire head,” he added.
“Before I could respond, I felt something slowly turning, shifting, until it clicked into place: In a moment of divine connection and revelation, she had reached me,” Will says of his processing his daughter’s decision. “I leaned down, peered deeply into her eyes, and said, ‘I got it. I am so sorry. I see you.'”
Will comes to bookstores nationwide on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.
Photo: Will Smith/Instagram