Will Smith Says Jaden Asking to Become Emancipated at 15 Was ‘Heart-Shattering’

In an excerpt from his new memoir, Will Smith recalled the time his son Jaden said he wanted to be emancipated after 'After Earth' bombed at the box office.

Will Smith and son Jaden Smith on red carpet event

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Environmental Media Association

Will Smith and son Jaden Smith on red carpet event

In yet another excerpt from his new memoir Will, which is published in this week’s issue of People magazine, Will Smith recalled the struggles his son Jaden experienced after their 2013 film After Earth bombed at the box office.

After Earth was an abysmal box office and critical failure,” Smith writes. “And what was worse was that Jaden took the hit. Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.”

Smith goes on to reveal that his “heart shattered” when Jaden, just 15-years-old at the time, said he wanted to be “emancipated.”

“We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed,” the 53-year-old actor explained. “He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership. At fifteen years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you’ve hurt your kids.”

Last week, in another excerpt from his new book, Will opened up about 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 said. “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.” 

Will is out on Nov. 9.

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