Will Smith Recounts Being Mistreated On The Set Of His Most Recent Film, “Emancipation”

Will Smith
Photo: Red Table Talk

In place of his wife, who usually hosts Red Table Talk, Will Smith served as the guest host on yesterday’s episode.

Trey, Jaden, and Willow, his three kids, joined him as he discussed the difficult process of filming his most recent movie, Emancipation, as well as the treatment he got from his co-stars during that time.

The real-life story of a runaway slave named Gordon will serve as the basis for Antoine Fuqua’s drama, which is now in theatres. Peter (Smith) escapes from a plantation in Louisiana and makes his way north while being pursued by slave catchers in the film.

Smith elaborated further saying that becoming a slave physically was “dehumanizing” and “emasculating. “Once you experience those things, they go into the same banks as your actual memories,” he went on to say.

Even though he doesn’t seem to harbor any ill will toward his co-stars, the actor has revealed two incidents of mistreatment on set, both of which were explained away as “method acting.”

Ben Foster, who plays slave owner Jim Fassel in the film, appeared in a prerecorded segment around the episode’s midpoint to offer his congratulations to Smith on his performance.

“What I saw of Will was an actor who I’ve respected for so long, someone who does such important work, not just of his career, but of current-day cinema,” Foster expressed.  He continued by saying that Smith’s work in Emancipation “speaks to the human spirit.” Foster also disclosed that he and Smith didn’t communicate with each other for the duration of the six-month filming process, which came as a shock to the Smith family.

As soon as production on his video was complete, Smith said that he was surprised to learn that Foster had experienced such intense feelings throughout the process. “I’m hearing all that for the first time,” He declared.   The actor kept on relating stories to his kids about his time spent on set with Foster.

Given his dual role as producer and actor, Smith stayed around after the first day of filming was a bust due to bad weather in order to keep the cast and crew motivated.

Smith shared that he felt like he gave everything he had. When he tried talking to Foster, though, Foster completely ignored him. Smith initially rationalized the conduct by saying it was possible that he may not have been seen or recognized.

“But then for six months, he didn’t speak to me. He didn’t make eye contact with me. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t acknowledge me for six months. I was like, ‘Yep, got it. We’re not playing” he went into further detail.

Only on the last day of filming did Foster and Smith have any kind of interaction. “So the final day, me and Antoine [Fuqua] are at the monitor looking at the shot and Ben comes over – he never came to the monitor, ever – and Antoine said, ‘I’m happy. We got it,’” shared the Fresh Prince star.

According to Smith, he gave Foster a glance, and the actor immediately went to shake his hand and say, “Nice to meet you.”

Smith told his kids about how one of his co-stars improvised a scene where he got spat on earlier in the episode. He said, “I was like, woah, every actor on this set was taking it really, really seriously,” after imitating the action and his shocked reaction.

Wednesdays are Red Table Talk day on Facebook Watch so this episode is already available.  Be sure to check it out and let us know your thoughts!

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