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04th Nov 2021

Will Smith contemplated killing his abusive father to “avenge” his mother

Laura Grainger

“I saw her spit blood.”

Will Smith has revealed he once contemplated killing his father in retaliation for the brutal abuse he witnessed his mother endure during his childhood.

In his upcoming memoir Will, excerpted in People magazine, the actor explains the complicated relationship he had with his father, William Carroll Smith Sr.

On one hand, his dad tirelessly supported Will’s interests and career, but on the other, he subjected his family to traumatising violence.

“My father was violent, but he was also at every game, play, and recital,” Will wrote. “He was an alcoholic, but he was sober at every premiere of every one of my movies.

“He listened to every record. He visited every studio. The same intense perfectionism that terrorised his family put food on the table every night of my life.”

One particularly traumatising incident Will recalls in the book was a terrifying act violence against his mother, Caroline Bright, during his childhood at the family home in Philadelphia.

“When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am.

“Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day.

“For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.”

His parents divorced in 2000, and while he maintained a close relationship with his father, his complex feelings towards him rose to a head when Will Sr. was suffering from cancer.

“One night, as I delicately wheeled him from his bedroom toward the bathroom, a darkness arose within me,” Will continued. “The path between the two rooms goes past the top of the stairs.

“As a child I’d always told myself that I would one day avenge my mother. That when I was big enough, when I was strong enough, when I was no longer a coward, I would slay him.”

Will said he seriously contemplated killing his father in that moment: “I paused at the top of the stairs. I could shove him down, and easily get away with it.

“As the decades of pain, anger, and resentment coursed then receded, I shook my head and proceeded to wheel Daddio to the bathroom.”

Will Sr. died in 2016, prompting his son to reflect on what their complex relationship taught him.

“There is nothing that you can receive from the material world that will create inner peace or fulfillment,” the 53-year-old wrote. “In the end, it will not matter one single bit how well [people] loved you — you will only gain ‘the Smile’ based on how well you loved them.”

If you have been affected by any of the details of this article, you can contact Women’s Aid’s 24 hour helpline on 1800 341 900.