Will Smith also reveals how he and Jada handle their marriage “s—” with their kids.
With a new movie called “Fatherhood” out now, Kevin Hart swung by “Red Table Talk” for a one-on-one conversation with Will Smith about the trials and tribulations of being a dad in the public eye.
Throughout the 45-minute episode, the two touched on their biggest parenting mistakes, how they made their blended families work and how they address tough issues — including, in Hart’s case, his own infidelity — with their children.
The talk got off to a rough start, as Hart was about an hour late for the interview. While Jada Pinkett Smith didn’t conduct it herself, she joked his tardiness was “deeply unprofessional” and added, “I bet you he wouldn’t have done it to Ellen.”
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As Hart and Smith sat down, they started to discuss what makes a good father — with both of them saying it was important for them to be nothing like their own dads.
“I had a bad father. No disrespect to my dad. My dad wasn’t the best father,” said Hart, citing his dad’s history with drugs, incarceration and bad relationship with his mother. For Will, he said he watched his father “bust my mother in the head,” saying, “I made the decision that I damn sure wasn’t gonna do that when I had my family.”
Smith, of course, is dad to his son with ex-wife Sheree Zampino, 28-year-old Trey, and his two children with Jada, Jaden and Willow. Hart, meanwhile, has four children; Heaven, 16, and Hendrix, 13, with ex-wife Torrei and Kenzo, 3, and Kaori, 8 months, with wife Eniko Parrish.
While Hart said he was “very lucky to have two amazing mothers” for his children, he acknowledged he’s had his “ups and downs” with his ex. Smith then asked about how he made his blended family work … and what he did wrong at first.
“I think the thing that you do wrong, you carry out your personal grudges. Your personal grudges affect your kids, there’s an energy,” said Hart. “You both have an energy. I’ve made mistakes of participating in the bad energy. We got to a space where we both understood, there’s like a cloud.” He added that his co parenting friendship with Torrei today is the best it’s ever been.
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Talk then turned to Hart’s indiscretions, including cheating on Eniko, which blew up while she was pregnant.
“I stepped in some s—, yeah,” said Hart, as Smith asked how he addressed that scandal with his children. “You’re never prepared for that side of it. Having a little girl in my life, it’s tough. You don’t realize the impact that your mistakes can truly have. When the kids get involved, it’s a different feeling, it’s a different emotion.”
“Through my public, uh, debacles … it’s very hard to bother me … very hard … but when your child shows disappointment, shows emotion, shows ‘I don’t understand why’ and you gotta have those conversations, the head drops for the first time,” he continued. “Now you realize there’s a different emotional cord that can be pulled on you that nobody else has the privilege of ever touching. My daughter touched on that cord, man.”
“When me and my wife went through what we went through and the whole cheating display, my talk with Heaven, god damn,” said Hart. “That was one like no other. Getting my daughter back, getting my daughter to understand that I’m sorry, that I made a mistake, that was real. To understand, I’m still dad.”
He added that Heaven was “tough” on him and, “until this day,” still is. “My daughter don’t play no games with her father, man.”
Both of them spoke about having issues in their personal lives blow up in the media as well, with Hart noting that “every child has the internet.”
“Jada and I have been really open with our, uh, realities. With our s—,” said Will. “We found that with our kids, we just tell them everything. We try to get out ahead of it, so the kids know before the world knows. We had a couple that got to the kids before we had a chance and that’s excruciating.”
Hart said he’s never had the luxury of getting to his children first, explaining that when his homophobic tweets made headlines and blew up his Oscars hosting gig, it was tough on his daughter.
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“When the whole thing started to happen with the LGBTQ+ community and the misconception of me, what I was and what I am and what I feel, my daughter was so upset because she couldn’t process how people could think this about her father,” he said. “It was so tough because this was when I started to realize how my fame has an impact on my household.”
He said Heaven also had to have a talk with him about how he spoke about her mother in public, a conversation he says “rocked” him. “She checked me,” Hart explained, saying she reminded him how those words — even if they’re jokes — go on to have a life of their own.
“The one thing that Sheree would always say that I have to be careful how I talked about our marriage and our divorce and I didn’t realize, it really took me years to comprehend,” said Will, who could relate. “Whatever you say, the world is going to punish me for that,” he said she told him, “You are giving people permission to say and do things to do me on the street.”
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Toward the end of the conversation, the two also opened up about being girl dads and some of the issues that come with that. As they both said they’ve maybe shielded their kids from too much while raising them, Hart said his daughter is not “prepared for the man that could f—ing break her heart, the predator who wants one thing.”
“She isn’t yet because all she knows is love, all she knows is happy,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not a f—ing good thing either.”
Sharing a story he felt Willow was “gonna be mad” at him for telling, Will revealed how he pulled this “one dude that’s been a friend” of hers aside for a man-to-man conversation.
“I remember when he first started coming around, I pulled him up like, ‘Man, here’s the deal. If my daughter loves you, I love you and no matter what happens with y’all I need two things from you,'” said Will. “Don’t ever put your hands on her and don’t ever leave her nowhere. You do those two things, I got you for the rest of your life no matter what happens with y’all.”
Smith also explained that it took him a long time to understand that his desires for his family don’t necessarily align with what they want out of life — something Willow has been open about in the past.
“I’ve got a vision and I’m a pit bull on a bone and I’m not letting go of the idea of how I want it to be,” said Smith. “And there are spider web atrocities and tragedies that grow out of that, so I’ve been trying to let go of what I think you should be doing and support your vision combined with God’s vision for you, versus trying to impose my ideas with the arrogance that somehow I know better than you.”
As the conversation wrapped, Jada popped out and let Will know the two “did great” taking over her table.
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