Will Smith's New Memoir Reveals He Thought About Killing His Abusive Father

by Julie Scagell
Will Smith with his abusive father
Dave Allocca/Starpix/Shutterstock

His new memoir “Will” is out November 9

Actor Will Smith is opening up about a painful part of his past. In his new memoir, “Will,” out November 9, Smith talks candidly about his upbringing, his work as an actor, his marriage, and becoming a father himself. One of the most heartbreaking parts, however, is about his abusive father. He writes that he once thought about killing him to avenge all the pain his mom, Caroline Bright, suffered at his hands.

“When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood,” he writes in the book in an excerpt shared by PEOPLE. “That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am.”

He also talks about the complicated relationship he had with his father, William Carroll Smith Sr., during his childhood and adult life, until his dad died of cancer in 2016.

“My father was violent, but he was also at every game, play, and recital. He was an alcoholic, but he was sober at every premiere of every one of my movies,” he writes. “He listened to every record. He visited every studio. The same intense perfectionism that terrorized his family put food on the table every night of my life.”

Smith said that he didn’t intervene after he saw his dad hit his mom, and that that has impacted everything in his life since.

“Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day,” he writes. “For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.”

Smith’s parents separated when he was a teenager and finally divorced in 2000. He wrote that when his father got cancer, he helped care for him and it was during that time that he had thoughts of killing him.

“One night, as I delicately wheeled him from his bedroom toward the bathroom, a darkness arose within me. The path between the two rooms goes past the top of the stairs,” he shares in the book. “As a child I’d always told myself that I would one day avenge my mother…I paused at the top of the stairs. I could shove him down, and easily get away with it,” he writes.

Smith said because of his work as an actor, if he wanted to do it, he could have. “I’m Will Smith. No one would ever believe I killed my father on purpose. I’m one of the best actors in the world. My 911 call would be Academy Award level,” he writes.

“There is nothing that you can receive from the material world,” he says in the book of his father, “that will create inner peace or fulfillment.”