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Will Smith talks ‘Emancipation,’ marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith and more with ‘GQ’

The acclaimed actor discussed his upcoming memoir and more for the magazine’s latest cover story.

Will Smith GQ

Will Smith discussed Emancipation, his upcoming memoir and more in a new cover story for GQ. Speaking with journalist Wesley Lowery, the 53-year-old movie star discussed how the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement last year impacted his decision to take on Emancipation, which was inspired by the photo and life story of “Whipped Peter.”

“The entire world was in lockdown [and] watched what happened to George Floyd and stood up with one voice and said, ‘We see it. We agree.’ That’s never happened before,” he said. “... With that, the opportunities are unlike they’ve ever been. I’ve been trying to get movies made for a long time. And the amount of money that Apple is paying to tell the story [of Emancipation] is unprecedented. And those opportunities are globally present and plentiful.”

Smith added that he’s “always avoided making films about slavery” throughout his career. “I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero,” he explained. “I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise. And the first time I considered it was Django, but I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance.”

Emancipation, though, is “about love and the power of Black love, and that was something that I could rock with,” Smith said. “We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.”

Besides his current filming projects and Will, the Grammy Award winner also opened up about his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith. According to Lowery, who received an advanced copy of Will, the memoir doesn’t offer too much insight into their 20-plus-year relationship. During their interview, however, Lowery said Smith admitted that Jada was not the only one who had had extramarital affairs, alluding to her self-described “entanglement’ with August Alsina.

“Jada never believed in conventional marriage,” Smith said. “Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection.”

“We have given each other trust and freedom with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody,” he added. “... But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

Smith also discussed the viral meme spawned from his and Jada’s “Red Table Talk” episode, saying, “It was midnight and we were going on vacation the next day. It was like, no, no, no, guys, I’m not sad. I’m fucking exhausted.” Read Smith’s full cover story here.

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