Oprah Winfrey proves once again, she isn’t afraid to get personal.
In the latest episode of her AppleTV+ series The Oprah Conversation, the media mogul sat down with Will Smith to discuss the highlights of his upcoming memoir, Will. At one point during their talk, Winfrey pointed to a paragraph in which Smith addressed his separation from Jada Pinkett Smith, whom he married back in 1997. Though Smith and his wife confirmed their temporary split in previous interviews, Winfrey explained there were still many questions surrounding the separation—chief among them was how long it actually lasted.
Smith revealed he and Jada never “officially” split, but said their relationship took a drastic turn following an argument during Jada’s 40th birthday.
“We realized that it was a fantasy illusion that we could make each other happy,” Will said. “We agreed that she had to make herself happy and I had to make myself happy. Then we were going to present ourselves back to the relationship already happy — versus demanding that the other person fill our empty cup.”
He continued: “We just decided, ‘You have to figure out how to be happy. Go figure out if you can be happy and prove to me it’s even possible. I’m gonna do me and you do you.’”
The Smith’s marriage has been the subject of countless news reports and long-standing rumors. The whispers became louder after Jada confirmed her “entanglement” with artist August Alsina. Smith subsequently revealed his own extramarital relationships in a recent GQ interview, claiming Jada wasn’t “the only one engaging in other sexual relationships.”
Smith touched on this topic in his self-titled memoir, writing: “Our time apart helped us both to discover the power of loving in freedom. We’re simultaneously, 100 percent bound together and 100 percent free. We agree that we were both imperfect people doing our best to how to figure out how to be in this world joyfully.”
Winfrey questioned Smith about the phrase “loving in freedom,” asking if it meant he and Jada had agreed to an open relationship. But instead of providing a direct answer, Smith chose to define what he meant by “loving in freedom,” insisting it wasn’t strictly about sex.
“You love in freedom with everybody except your partner,” he said, explaining that a romantic relationship is often more demanding and restrictive than relationships with friends and children. “It’s friendship versus marital prison … So we talk about everything. I think the difficulty that people have and difficulty in discussing it is people only think in terms of sex.”
Smith went on to say Jada never wanted a “traditional” marriage, but suggested their relationship wasn’t as unconventional as some made it out to be.
“Even the idea where people are trying to put something on it: ‘Will and Jada – what they doing with other people?’ Will and Jada ain’t really doing too much of nuthin,” he said. “Will and Jada are on a spiritual journey to cleanse the poisonous, unloving parts of our hearts. And we’re doing it together in this lifetime no matter what. But the goal is not a sexual goal, everybody,” he added. “We are going to love each other no matter what.”
You can check out Oprah’s interview with Smith on AppleTV+. The actor’s memoir will hit shelves Nov. 9.