Will Smith took over from Wednesday Red Table Talk and, spoiler alert, neither Chris Rock nor “the clap” are discussed. Instead, the actor sat down with his three children – Trey Smith, Jaden Smith and Willow Smith – to talk about the importance of his new movie. Emancipation.
“It was rough,” Will said on the Facebook Watch show, usually hosted by his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, his mother-in-law, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and Willow. “This is not a slave movie, this is a freedom movie.”
“We had some calls while you were shooting and I was very concerned,” Willow admitted.
“As the years went by, I got more and more locked into these characters for longer periods of time. It’s just the weight of this story, the weight of these experiences, the quality of the actors. It was emotional, it was physical, it was mentally taxing,” Will explained.
Willow admitted she had reservations about her famous father “making a slave movie.”
“Well, you know, originally I considered doing it Django [Unchained],” Will recalled of Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 movie. “We had a family gathering and we all talked about [it.]”
“Yes, yes, yes,” Willow recalled.
“I wasn’t quite there, but one of the main reasons I wasn’t was the looks on your faces, because you knew what that would mean,” Will said, explaining how his “characters seep back in” the Smith household. Will previously said he had passed away Django unleashed because he “couldn’t relate to the fact that violence is the answer” in Tarantino’s story. The role eventually went to Jamie Foxx.
Emancipation is not without its grueling scenes. Will said he was called the n-word “a hundred times a day by very good actors.” The Apple Originals movie also stars Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa.
“It’s rough, it twists your mind,” he explained. In the film, Will plays Peter, the real-life slave who escapes from a Louisiana plantation to join the Union army. The film is based on the iconic 1863 photograph known as “Whipped Peter” which shows the soldier’s scarred back. on RTTWill recalled an intense moment during pre-production when he got caught in a neck chain.
“So they put it on, I’m standing there and he’s going to take it off and it doesn’t work. So it’s stuck and my heart skips a beat and I’m like ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no,'” Wil said. “My heart is pounding and I’m like ‘Will, don’t freak.'”
Will thought to himself, “I’m Will Smith,” explaining that there were “people running around” looking for the keys.
“I’m still scared. Imagine what it was like for Peter to have that stuff on, barefoot and nobody cared,” Will continued, agreeing with Willow, who likened the situation to physical and emotional claustrophobia.
“Really inhumane,” said Will. “I couldn’t have put into words why, but I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed standing there and waiting. It was emasculating, inhuman, all of that.”
Will went on to say that “the only other time in my career” that he “got lost and went too far” with a character took on the 1993 film. Six degrees of separation in which he played a con artist.
“I wouldn’t say I went too far with Peter, I just lost track of how far I went,” added Will. “I got a little confused there.”
“You go into a state and if you go one click too far, Will Smith disappears and what happens is you move on psychologically and you enter Peter and you don’t realize you’re slipping away. And then it’s over, and you go back , look for you and you’re gone. It’s hard to explain, isn’t it?” Will told his kids. (Read into that how you will, but no, Will wasn’t filming Emancipation when he stormed the stage at the Oscars and punched Rock.)
“So what happens is you play these characters, and if you play them long enough, it’s like moving to a different country and speaking a different language. If you speak the other language long enough, you start learning your native language. lose,” he added. .
Will told his kids that it’s “critical” for their “generation to see this movie and understand the basics of this story and what it means in this country.”
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