Will Smith knows people are trying to make sense of his marriage to Jada Pinkett Smith.
Their relationship has long been a buzzy topic, reaching a peak last year when she admitted to a prior sexual relationship with August Alsina while married. He recently admitted he was unfaithful, too. So in a new interview with Oprah Winfrey to promote his memoir, Will, the actor answered questions about his nontraditional marriage.
On AppleTV+'s The Oprah Conversation, Winfrey tried to get answers — like when she asked how long they were separated, which they have both previously said they were. She said people "never actually understood" the duration and wanted to know if it was "months or years."
"Ya know… It's really funny… We didn't… We never actually like officially separated," Will, 53, finally replied, presumably meaning by legal definition.
He pinpointed Jada's 40th birthday — Sept. 2011 — as when things came to a head, as he had spent three years planning an elaborate party — and she hated the whole thing.
"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 said, "We just decided, 'You have to figure out how to be happy." Though he admitted it was more "contentious" from his side, telling Jada: "'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."
In his book, he wrote, "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 asked him to explained what "loving in freedom" meant — and whether it means they're in an open relationship.
"You love in freedom with everybody except your partner," he said, explaining how people tend to give room in their relationships with friends and their growing children, so it's not as demanding or restrictive as a marriage can be. With him and Jada, "It's friendship versus marital prison."
Winfrey asked if that meant they can have other sexual partners, without bringing up Jada's relationship with Alsina and Will recently revealing infidelity.
"So we talk about everything," he said. "I think the difficulty that people have and difficulty in discussing it is people only think in terms of sex."
He then downplayed whatever side flings they may have, or had, going on.
"People are trying to put something on it: 'Will and Jada — what they doing with other people?'" he said mocking the speculation. "Will and Jada ain't really doing too much of nuthin,'" he laughed. "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."
He added, "But the goal is not a sexual goal. It’s spiritual. We are going to love each other no matter what."
Will went on to say, "Since we are talking about it, Oprah, let's just talk about it: No woman can make me happy, so I don't need to look for one to try and make me happy. No man can make Jada happy, so she don't need to go look for one to make her happy. We both know that. There is no person that will fill your hole." He then laughed, "That was probably not the best way to say that, but y'all know what I mean."
Will said, "The spiritual journey is finding your joy and bliss without vampirically using others. So the Will journey and the Jada journey is finding that joy without medication. Finding that joy without distraction. It's about being able to find that contentment within yourself — not with external stimuli."
He continued, "The spiritual process is detoxing all of those things — not leaving your marriage so you can go get some chocolate cake. No. It's no chocolate cake. It's not alcohol. It's no sexual stimulation and all of that… The spiritual process is more about detox than going to get more."
He added, "I haven’t talked about that publicly."
Smith said his path to spiritual enlightenment included going on a 14-day silent retreat and then going to Peru and using ayahuasca, the plant-based psychedelic, more than 12 times under supervision.
He said one night after drinking ayahuasca and questioning, "Do I have to be married? What is it?" he had a vision of Jada as soil and himself as a seed. He saw the hand of God putting them together and a beautiful tree growing as a result. That vision made him start thinking of his relationship with Jada as a "fruitful interaction that is meant to feed the people around us… Whether I liked our interaction or not, I started feeling in my heart we were special together. We were condoned by the universe."
So why is he putting this all out there? He said with the memoir, out Nov. 9, and his new YouTube original series, Best Shape of My Life, he's facing his fears and stepping into his most fearful places.
"Love being the most fearful place you'll ever try to step into," he said. "Real love. That unconditional love. To be able to open a broken heart again. Open a broken heart again and again."
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