There is a very important disclaimer that appears at the beginning of David Letterman’s new interview with Will Smith on season four of his Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction: “This episode was filmed prior to the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony.”
Netflix and Letterman are telling viewers that there will be no explicit questions or answers about Smith infamously slapping comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, at the Oscars earlier this year. As of the new season’s release on Netflix, Smith has still not spoken publicly about the incident that has upended his life and career, with multiple upcoming projectsshelved for the time being.
And yet, throughout the nearly hour-long conversation, there are moments that come off very differently than they would have if Smith’s fun-loving persona was still intact.
Early in the interview, Letterman described the experience of having Smith on his old Late Show as watching a “locomotive” enter the studio, “but you’re telling people that’s not exactly who you are.”
“There’s a person that you want to be and a person you want to be viewed as,” Smith explained. “And then there’s who you really are.” Echoing the first line of the self-titled memoir he put out last year, Smith said, “I’ve always thought of myself as a coward.”
The actor recounts the experience of being nine years old and watching his father beat up his mother. “And I didn’t do anything,” he said. “And that just left a traumatic impression of myself as a coward.”
Smith went on to say that when he discovered comedy, he came to realize that “negativity cannot exist inside of a human body when you’re laughing,” and he began to use comedy as a “defense mechanism.”
“Ultimately ‘Will Smith’ became a symbol of joy and fun, and when I showed up, I wanted people to be happy,” he told Letterman, “because I found that when my household was that way, I felt safe.”ORDER A COPY OF ROB’S NEW BEST SELLING BOOK! Called “America’s Number ONE Gossip Columnist” by The National Enquirer. Rob ‘Naughty But Nice’ Shuter breaks celebrity news every day on his website NaughtyGossip.com where he delivers all the dish about the stars we love in his naughty but nice signature style. You can also catch him co-hosting and breaking celebrity news on Good Day New York, The Today Show, The Talk, Wendy Williams Show, CNN, Extra and Z100’s ‘Elvis Duran.’ Previously, Rob was the Huffington Post’s only celebrity columnist and the former executive editor of OK! Magazine. Rob has also hosted his own Saturday night talk show on Mark Cuban’s channel and his own daily morning show, ‘The Gossip Table,’ on VH1! Breaking some of the biggest entertainment stories, including Jamie Lynn Spears’s pregnancy news, Britney’s first post-meltdown interview, Eva Longoria’s wedding, and baby exclusives for Jessica Alba, Tori Spelling and Mathew McConaughey’s tots, Rob always knows where to find the best scoop. Before Rob was one of the world’s most successful entertainment reporters, he was a publicist working for Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, P. Diddy, Jessica Simpson and Jon Bon Jovi! Now he is bringing all this experience to his new show on I HEART MEDIA in his unique cheeky way, that is always a pinch and never a punch!