Exclusive: Will Smith Discusses Physical Transformation Behind ‘Emancipation’ Role in ‘Red Table Talk’ Takeover

In a first-of-its-kind 'Red Table Talk' takeover, Will Smith is joined by his children for an in-depth discussion about his latest film 'Emancipation.'

In an exclusive Red Table Talkclip, Will Smith opens up about the intense physical work required for his role in director Antoine Fuqua’s recently released film Emancipation.

The film, available now on Apple TV+, sees the actor leading a story loosely inspired by photos circa 1863 showing the scourged back of escaped American slave Gordon, also referred to in historical contexts as “Whipped Peter.” To commemorate the film’s recent release, Smith was joined by his children—Willow, Jaden, and Trey—for a special Red Table Talk “takeover” during which he detailed the importance of physicality in the film.

As seen in the exclusive clip above from Facebook Watch, Jaden brought up how his sister, Willow, noticed while watching the film that their father was “getting skinnier” as the story progressed. When elaborating on this aspect of the performance, Smith—whose turn as Richard Williams earned him an Academy Award earlier this year—pointed to a previously shared “dad bod” photo that he says marked the kickoff of his journey toward stepping into the character of Peter.

Will Smith and his children

“You guys may remember, at the top of the year I posted the out-of-shape, the ‘dad bod’ picture,” Smith said on Red Table Talk. “The ‘dad bod’ picture was my beginning of preparation to lose weight for Peter. I was probably 225ish when I started and at the lowest on the movie I got to 195. For me, the physicality is a big part of what makes people go ‘whoa,’ you know? To be able to transition and manipulate your body as an actor is a big part of the suspension of disbelief for people.”

The full Red Table Talk takeover will debut at 12 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch and also features insight from Smith’s co-star Ben Foster, aforementioned director Antoine Fuqua, and his mother. Tune in here.

Previously, Will connected with Karla Rodriguez for Complex about the film and spoke at length about both the physical and mental challenges of telling this story. Revisit the full discussion here, then check out our recent chat with Smith’s Emancipation co-star Charmaine Bingwa by hitting this link.

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