Dubbed ‘the slap heard around the world’, it was the moment last year when – seconds after the camera caught Will Smith laughing at Oscars host Chris Rock‘s joke about his wife’s shaved head as she sat beside him – the actor bounded on stage and hit the comic hard across the face.
It was a display of outrageous, entitled behaviour by one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – and minutes away from collecting the Best Actor award, too. But Smith’s one saving grace, many felt, was that he’d been defending the honour of a beloved wife from mockery over her alopecia.
‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth,’ Smith repeatedly bellowed as Rock rubbed his face, later bursting into tears during his Oscars acceptance speech as he rambled on about the terrible abuse that stars have to put up with and how ‘love will make you do crazy things’.
Now, however, Jada Pinkett Smith – who he married in 1997 – has suggested that Smith’s vigorous display of spousal loyalty wasn’t anything like what it seemed.
In an interview this week, the actress revealed that their supposedly long and happy marriage actually disintegrated way back in 2016 – six years before the Oscars incident – and they had since been living ‘completely separate lives’.
The slap heard around the world: Will Smith (right) smacks comedian Chris Rock in the face after he made an off-colour joke about his wife’s shaved head
Rock was left stunned by the slap, which came just before Smith accepted the Oscar for Best Actor for tennis biopic King Richard
Although they didn’t divorce on paper, it had been a divorce in practice, she told a sycophantic TV interviewer. This from a woman who once claimed that ‘it’s too hard to be in a pretend marriage’.
Asked why they chose to live a lie for so long, she said that it came down to ‘just not being ready yet… still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership and… how do we present that to people?
‘I made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce. We will work through whatever and I just haven’t been able to break that promise.’
What on earth is going on with Hollywood’s most preposterous power couple?
The short answer is that Pinkett Smith has a new book to plug and, not being as big a star as her husband, she needed something dramatic to reveal in it.
Even something that entails contradicting herself after years of dismissing rumours that their 26-year marriage – which has produced two children – was a sham.
In her autobiography, Worthy, she also claims that Chris Rock asked her out when he thought she was getting divorced and that she initially thought that Smith’s decision to hit Rock at the Oscars was only a ‘skit’.
The memoir’s publisher, Dey Street Books, describes it as a ‘rollercoaster ride from the depths of suicidal depression to the heights of personal rediscovery and the celebration of authentic feminine power’.
However, given the new revelations about her marriage, which has long been plagued by rumours about infidelity and their sexuality, it has to be asked if anything the couple say can be taken at face value.
After all, Will Smith wrote his own memoir in 2021, a work that was dubbed ‘brave and inspiring’ and gave the impression that they were in a deep and strong relationship. And in a TV interview last year he said: ‘There’s never been infidelity in our marriage. Jada and I talk about everything, and we have never surprised one another with anything ever.’
True, his estranged wife has herself sent out conflicting signals over the years about whether she’s had other lovers during their marriage, brushing away her romance with a friend of her son Jaden, 25, who was decades younger as an ‘entanglement’.
The couple appear to share the somewhat unorthodox view that infidelity only exists when a couple aren’t honest with each other about their sexual partners.
But Pinkett Smith, 52, has yet to say exactly why their marriage ended. ‘That’s a lot of things. By the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying,’ she told the NBC interviewer.
But she hasn’t been short on the couple’s trademark incomprehensible waffle in interviews promoting her book.
‘We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together,’ she told People magazine.
‘We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like.’
The daughter of a heroin-addict mother and alcoholic father, she says she became a drug dealer on the streets of Baltimore, where she grew up, before studying acting.
She married 55-year-old Smith in 1997, the same year the actor and rapper shot to Hollywood stardom in the sci-fi comedy Men In Black. He was married to his first wife, Sheree Zampino, at the time and had a son, Trey, but instantly fell for Jada.
He quickly divorced Zampino and, according to Pinkett Smith in Worthy, told his next wife in his typically bumptious way: ‘You’re going out with me now.’
She admits in the book that she found married life – even with their wealth and fame – immensely challenging. ‘While I was really living the dream, I hit a huge wall – a massive amount of depression.’
As she turned 40, she heard ‘voices’ telling her to kill herself, adding: ‘I started looking for places, cliffs where I could have an accident, because I didn’t want my kids to think that their mother had committed suicide.’
She says she tried many New Age treatments for her depression, including ‘Goddess gatherings’ (where a ‘sacred circle’ of women honour the ‘Divine Feminine’), silent yoga retreats, and consultations with an elder of the highly controversial Santeria religion, which was brought to Cuba by African slaves and can involve animal sacrifice.
She stopped having suicidal thoughts, she says, when she started taking the dangerous South American psychedelic drug ayahuasca, which Smith and their adult children have also tried.
Turning to that fateful Oscars night, she admits she rolled her eyes when Rock poked fun at her bald head, but insists she wasn’t upset for herself but for other alopecia sufferers.
She writes: ‘Even so, I am unclear on the reason why Will is so upset. We had been living separate lives and were there as family, not as husband and wife.’
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith at the premiere of King Richard at the Chinese Theatre in 2021
The couple pictured in 2019 at the premiere of Gemini Man – by which time they were already separated
Rebutting long-standing claims that she was responsible for her husband’s outburst, she insists that until Smith started walking back to his seat afterwards, she was convinced the whole episode had been a ‘skit’ and the slap wasn’t real.
Pinkett Smith does not disclose whether Smith knew at the time that Rock – with whom she provided the voices for the 2005 animated film Madagascar and its two sequels – had once phoned her and said: ‘I’d love to take you out.’
He said he’d heard they were getting divorced. When she insisted they weren’t, ‘he was appalled, and he profusely apologised and that was that’.
Those rumours of marital issues have indeed been circulating for years. ‘I’ve heard all the things – their marriage is not real, he’s gay, she’s gay, they swing,’ she said in 2009. ‘I tell you what, it’s too hard to be in a pretend marriage.’
Or perhaps not that hard. The duo spent years not only batting off such speculation but doing their best to portray themselves as one of Tinseltown’s rare devoted married couples.
‘Happy Anniversary, My Queen! I am forever Devoted to Nurturing your Deepest Truth,’ Smith simpered on Instagram in 2017, as he celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
Asked later that year on a chat show how she kept things ‘hot’ with her husband, Pinkett Smith said: ‘I really think that Will and I just have amazing chemistry on a lot of different levels.’
In 2021, they were still gushing publicly about their love for each other, Smith telling ABC News they were ‘pursuing the kind of love that everybody dreams about’. And only last month she wished him Happy Birthday on Instagram, cherishing ‘this Divine assignment we’ve chosen to walk together’.
There have been wobbles, they have admitted on occasions, when they’ve both been unhappy in the marriage, but they have always been at pains to stress the problems were either passing or not that important.
The biggest wobble was revealed in 2020 when August Alsina, a singer 21 years younger than Pinkett Smith, said they’d had a long-time affair.
Alsina, who had been introduced to her by her son, Jaden, at a music festival in London in 2015, claimed Will Smith had actually given his blessing to their relationship.
Friends said Alsina, so smitten with Pinkett Smith he called her ‘God’s divinity’, became so close to the Smiths he went on holiday with them and stayed at their £34 million mansion in Calabasas, Los Angeles.
Pinkett Smith initially denied the claims, only to confess a month later in a discussion with Smith on a chat show she hosts on Facebook.
She claimed her ‘entanglement’ with Alsina started while she and Smith were separated and ‘going through a very difficult time’.
However, the couple ended the discussion by chorusing: ‘Twenty-five years and counting. We ride together, we die together.’
Will Smith in the moment as he tells Chris Rock to ‘keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth’ during the 2022 Oscars
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith attending the premiere of Apple TV+ film Emancipation in November 2022
In 2021, Smith gave an interview to GQ magazine to promote his memoir, in which he wrote that as long ago as 2011 they realised ‘their marriage wasn’t working… and clearly something had to change’.
Although it wasn’t included in the book, he confided that the change in question was that they stopped being monogamous, Smith adding: ‘Jada never believed in conventional marriage.’
But nor, it appears, does he. Smith has admitted he used to have a fantasy about possessing a 20-strong ‘harem of girlfriends’, including actress Halle Berry and ballerina Misty Copeland.
While Pinkett Smith told People they’ve never had an open marriage, she hinted years ago that she’d given Smith the go-ahead to find other sexual partners, saying: ‘I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be OK.’ ‘
In 2011, it was claimed Jada and singer Marc Anthony, then married to Jennifer Lopez, were ‘inappropriately close’ and were caught together at the family home. They denied the claims.
The couple have also raised unconventional children – rapper and actor Jaden, and singer and actress Willow, 22. ‘We don’t do punishment,’ Smith once boasted of their parenting techniques and some would say it rather shows.
Home-schooled and propelled towards stardom from an early age, their offspring are insufferably pretentious and conceited – perhaps even more so than their parents. Some say much of the gobbledygook spouted by the family comes from their exposure to Scientology.
Will and Jada were introduced to the controversial ‘church’ by Tom Cruise, a close friend, in 2004. Although they have insisted they are not Scientologists but ‘students of world religion’, they have donated generously to the organisation.
In 2008 the Smiths spent £1million on setting up the New Village Leadership Academy in Los Angeles which their children attended. They claimed to have designed the curriculum but faced allegations that it was focused on Scientology.
In the weird world of Will and Jada, the news that they actually split up seven years ago is simply par for the course.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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