Will Smith took over on Wednesday Red table and, spoiler alert, neither Chris Rock nor “the slap” are discussed. Instead, the actor sat down with his three children — Trey Smith, Jaden Smith and Willow Smith — to talk about the importance of his new film. Emancipation.
“He was rugged,” Will said on the Facebook Watch show, typically hosted by his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, his mother-in-law, Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Willow. “This is not a movie about slaves, this is a movie about freedom.”
“We had a few phone calls while you were shooting and I was very concerned,” Willow admitted.
“As the years went on, I became more and more attached to these characters for longer periods of time. It’s just the weight of this story, the weight of these experiences, the quality of the actors. It was emotional, it was physically, it was spiritually tiring,” Will said.
Willow admitted she had reservations about her famous father “making a movie about slaves.”
“Well, you know I was thinking about doing it at first Django [Unchained],” Will recalled of the 2012 Quentin Tarantino film. “We had a family reunion and we all talked about [it.]”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Willow remembered.
“I wasn’t through with it, but one of the main reasons I wasn’t was the looks on your faces because you knew what that was going to mean,” Will said, explaining how his “characters resurface” in the Smith family. Will previously said he was dead Django Unchained as he “couldn’t connect to violence as an answer” in Tarantino’s story. The role ultimately went to Jamie Foxx.
Emancipation it’s not without its grueling scenes. Will said he was called the n-word “a hundred times a day by very good actors”. The Apple Originals film also stars Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa.
“It’s hard, it twists your mind,” she explained. In the film, Will plays Peter, the real-life slave who escapes from a Louisiana plantation to join the Union Army. The film is based on the iconic 1863 photo known as “Whipped Peter” which shows the soldier’s scarred back. ON RTT extensionWill recalled a poignant moment during pre-production when he got stuck in a chain around his neck.
“So they put it on, I’m standing there and he goes to take it off and it doesn’t work. So it’s stuck and my heart skips a beat and I’m like, ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no,'” Will said. “My heart is pounding and I’m like, ‘Will, don’t freak out.'”
Will thought to himself, “I’m Will Smith,” explaining that there were “people running around” looking for the keys.
“I’m still scared. Imagine what it was like for Peter to have that stuff on, barefoot and nobody cared,” Will continued, agreeing with Willow who likened the situation to physical and emotional claustrophobia.
“Very dehumanizing,” Will said. “I hadn’t been able to articulate why, but I felt embarrassed. I was embarrassed as I stood there and waited. It was emasculating, dehumanizing, all of that.”
Will went on to share that the “only other time in my career” he’s “lost and gone too far” with a character was filming the 1993 film Six degrees of separation in which he played a con artist.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve gone too far with Peter, I’ve just lost count of how far I’ve come,” Will added. “I writhed a little in there.”
“You go into a state and when you go one click too far, Will Smith disappears and what happens is, psychologically, you go over and father into Peter and you don’t realize you’re slipping away. And then it’s over, and you come back, you you search and you’re gone. It’s a hard thing to explain, isn’t it?” Will told the kids about him. (Read as you like, but no, Will wasn’t filming Emancipation when he stormed the stage at the Oscars and hit Rock.)
“So what happens is you play these characters, and when you play them long enough it’s like moving to another country and speaking another language. If you speak the other language long enough, you start to lose your mother tongue.” , he added. .
Will told his children that it’s “critical” for their “generation to see this movie and understand the basis of this story and what it means in this country.”
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