Will Smith got candid in his new memoir, Will, which People magazine got an exclusive excerpt of. The star admits that he fell in love with fellow actress Stockard Channing when they were filming Six Degrees of Separation in 1993.
The 53-year-old actor blames intense method acting for how this infatuation affected his first marriage.
In his powerful memoir, which comes out Nov. 9, the Men in Black star opened up about this love that he developed for his co-star and how hard it made his new marriage. Before he started filming the movie, Will Smith had gotten married to his first wife, Sheree Zampino, and the couple had just welcomed their first child.
Will writes, “Sheree and I were in the first few months of our marriage with a brand-new baby and for Sheree, I can imagine that this experience was unsettling to say the least. She’d married a guy named Will Smith and now she was living with a guy named Paul Poitier. And to make matters worse, during shooting I fell in love with Stockard Channing.”
Paul Poitier was Will’s character during the film, and the star used method acting to prepare. Method acting is a form of theater that requires an actor to do a certain number of intense training techniques to help them develop their character.
For Will Smith, this meant staying in the character of Paul Poitier when he was home and getting ready for filming. This intense method acting caused the actor to fall in love with Stockard because his character was in love with her in the film.
“It is a really dangerous place when you get good at it. But once I had that experience, I was like, No more Method acting. I was spending—for Six Degrees, I wanted to perform well so badly that I was spending six and seven and eight days in character before shooting, and you have to be careful with that,” said the actor.
Will Smith said after the movie was done, he moved his family back to Los Angeles, but he couldn’t stop thinking about his former co-star. Will revealed that he was dying to see and talk to her.
Will and Sheree broke up in 1995, and while the actor blamed the method acting, he said that he never cheated on his wife. Will and Stockard kept their relationship professional.
Five years ago, Sheree revealed why she left her marriage to Will Smith in a Facebook video, the 53-year-old said that it wasn’t because of any infidelity. She left because she was unhappy.
“Our marriage ended because we were so young. We were the same age then as our son is now. And it’s just a lot of responsibility. Marriage is not easy especially at that age, and now we’re trying to, you know, be parents, navigate through our marriage,” Sheree said.
She revealed that “I couldn’t reconcile all of that. Will was, you know, becoming bigger and bigger with his career. I’m becoming smaller and smaller and smaller and I just, I didn’t have the tools. We didn’t have the tools to make it work. I left because I was unhappy. It’s really that simple. I left because I was unhappy.”
Will Smith first revealed his past feelings for Stockard in an interview with Esquire in 2015. The actor admitted to falling in love with the actress, and Stockard was more than flattered when she learned of her co-star’s feelings.
She said, in an interview with Page Six, “That’s a wonderful thing . . . I adored him from the first time I laid eyes on him because I thought he was genuinely sweet. I felt very protective of him, because it was his first big job. It’s amazing for me to hear that he felt that way, I’m delighted.”