Will Smith is slowly but surely recovering from his father's death -- and credits his new movie, Collateral Beauty, for helping him through it.
The 48-year-old actor sat down for a Facebook Live
session at the company's headquarters on Thursday, where he talked about preparing for his role as a man dealing with the death of his daughter, and how it helped him cope with his own father's death.
"I got about two weeks into the preparation for the film, and my father was diagnosed with cancer. First, you know, it stunned me, and then it was the magical work of the universe," Smith revealed. "I could not believe that this was the film I was working on, and I was forced to face my father's mortality."
"It was rough for about a week, and then I got it together. And I decided that we would use the process of the character, who was suffering a loss, and I would share my preparation with my father," he explained.
Smith used the movie's focus on love, time and death as talking points with his father, which he says led to "some of the most open and powerful conversations that we ever had."
Willard Carroll Smith, Sr. died in early November, but lived four months after his diagnosis – and kept his sense of humor until the end.
"They gave him six weeks [to live] and he actually lived for four months," Smith revealed. "So about three months into the six weeks, I go to see him one day, and he goes,' Man, this sh*t is embarrassing.' And I said, 'What, dad?' He said, 'Man, you tell everyone you gonna be dead in six weeks, three months later you still hanging around.'"
It was the little things like his father's humor that the Suicide Squad star said helped him learn to appreciate the smaller things, and forget about the pressures of the box office.
"It was so magnificent to me… my father died on Nov. 7, but it was so powerful for me to be cleansed of the box office," he said. "Like, I don't need the box office to be huge on this film. I don't need to win any awards, you know? I don't care. It was the film that I worked on that I was actually able to comfortably and beautifully say goodbye to my father."
Throughout the rest of Smith's Facebook Live session, he also talked about confronting fear -- through skydiving with his sons.
"I had such a mystical, powerful, spiritual experience [sky diving], that I flew home and got my sons, and I went back," he explained. "So I'm sitting there like, 'Yeah, my sons are going to have this crazy experience,' and then Jaden went out of the airplane. I was like, 'Hm.' And then my oldest son, Trey goes up, and he goes out of the airplane. And I was like, 'This could potentially be the worst display of African American parenting in history. Both my sons just fell out of an airplane, because I told them to!'"
When he's not skydiving, Smith confronts his fears in other ways, like choosing more challenging roles.
"That character from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is who I was 26 years ago," he shared. "I'm 48 now, so it's a really different time in my life."
"When you've created things that are so iconic, it becomes healing for people…so it's very difficult," he said. "I wouldn't have it any other way, I love being able to make people smile and cheer over that, but I also am going to boldly go into a new creation."