In an excerpt from his new memoir Will, which is published in this week’s issue of People magazine, Will Smith recalls falling in love with Stockard Channing, who starred opposite him in the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation.
At the time, Will and his then-wife Sheree Zampino had just welcomed their son Trey when the film began production.
“Sheree and I were in the first few months of our marriage with a brand-new baby and for Sheree, I can imagine that this experience was unsettling to say the least,” Smith wrote. “She’d married a guy named Will Smith and now she was living with a guy named Paul Poitier,” his character’s name in the movie. “And to make matters worse, during shooting I fell in love with Stockard Channing.”
Smith continued, “After the film wrapped, Sheree and Trey and I moved back to L.A. Our marriage was off to a rocky start. I found myself desperately yearning to see and speak to Stockard.”
It isn’t the first time Smith has opened up about falling in love with Channing. In an interview with Esquire in February 2015, Smith talked about the “dangers” of method acting.
“With Six Degrees of Separation, I got a taste early of the dangers of going too far for a character,” he told the magazine. “My character was in love with Stockard Channing’s character. And I actually fell in love with Stockard Channing.”
Smith continued, “So the movie was over and I went home, and I was dying to see Stockard. I was like, ‘Oh no! What have I done?’ That was my last experience with Method acting, where you’re reprogramming your mind. You’re actually playing around with your psychology. You teach yourself to like things and to dislike things.”
Smith went on to expand on why Six Degrees of Separation was his last experience with method acting.“It is a really dangerous place when you get good at it. But once I had that experience, I was like, ‘no more Method acting,’” he said. “I was spending—for Six Degrees, I wanted to perform well so badly that I was spending six and seven and eight days in character before shooting, and you have to be careful with that.”
Smith remains forthcoming in regards to his current marriage with Jada Pinkett Smith. Back in September, the 53-year-old actor revealed in a cover story for GQ that his wife Jada wasn’t “the only one engaging in other sexual relationships.”
Smith opened up about how they share a mutual understanding that’s allowed them to reach a place in their marriage that he believes to be “the highest definition of love.”
“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way,” he explained. “And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”