WHEN a tantric sex expert asked Will Smith what would make him happy, the answer surprised even the superstar himself.
Recounting the moment in his new memoir, the 53-year-old actor-turned-actor reveals how a “shadow” from the “swampy regions” of his psyche seemed to answer for him.
“I would have a harem,” he replied.
Far from being shocked, counsellor Michaela Boehm encouraged Will to name who he would choose for it.
First up were actress Halle Berry and ballerina Misty Copeland. Then Michaela helped him come up with a total of 25 “dynamic and talented women from across the globe”.
The Men In Black star was so excited by the idea, he vowed to contact the women the next morning.
But after sleeping on the plan, he realised the fantasy was connected to the breakdown of his relationship with wife Jada Pinkett Smith, 50.
In his searingly honest book — called Will and published yesterday — he recalls telling his counsellor: “I guess I felt if I had enough women, I’d always be able to find at least one of them who liked me.
“If I can’t figure out how to nurture and nourish one extraordinary woman, what the f*** made me think I could care for 25?”
He had been seeing Michaela after his temporary 2011 separation from actress Jada, with whom he shares kids Jaden, 23, and Willow, 21. He also has son Trey, 28, with first wife Sheree Zampino, 53.
’In his memoir, he details how his separation from Jada kick-started a journey of self-discovery, where he took hallucinogenic drug ayahuasca 14 times in a two-year period.
I guess I felt if I had enough women, I’d always be able to find at least one of them who liked me.
He describes how it gave him visions of an “unseeable woman” he came to call “Mother”.
Writing about his first trip on the drug, he says: “I was floating deep in outer space . . . I was trillions of light years away from Earth.”
Will says the drug helped him realise that, “If I’m this beautiful, I don’t need No1 movies to feel good about myself. If I’m this beautiful, I don’t need hit records to feel worthy of love. If I’m this beautiful, I don’t need Jada or anyone else to validate me”.
It was a momentous discovery for the star, who says he had an “insatiable obsession” with success for most of his life.
He believes that obsession stemmed from when he was nine and saw his father punch his mother so hard she collapsed — and he did nothing.
He says with remarkable candour: “No matter how successful I have become . . . there is that subtle and silent feeling always pulsating in the back of my mind: That I am a coward; that I have failed.”
When his mother moved out of the family’s Philadelphia home four years later, 13-year-old Will was so unhappy he contemplated suicide.
But instead he hid “under layers and layers of performance”.
His carefully constructed cheerful personality helped him land his first hit record, Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble, as a teenager, and later secured him the lead role in sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air after he spontaneously auditioned for producer Quincy Jones at a party.
From there, Will became the highest-grossing movie star in the world before he was 40 and had a multi-platinum music career with hits such as Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.
He was also determined his family would be successful, too — a project he jokingly describes as, “Smith Family Perfection TM”.
So son Jaden starred alongside his dad in 2006’s The Pursuit Of Happyness at the age of eight. He was later cast as the lead in the 2010 Karate Kid remake.
And daughter Willow had a record deal with rapper Jay-Z’s label by the time she was ten.
With everything so picture perfect on the outside, Will says he “felt like the master” — but it came at a price.
The book tells how at the peak of his success, when he was on the “biggest winning streak in Hollywood history”, wife Jada would wake up sobbing.
He writes: “During one stretch she cried for 45 days straight.” He adds that she made, “Many compromises over the years that painfully negated her own values”.
The first was getting married to Will in the first place in 1997 — something he and her mother pushed for when she was pregnant with Jaden.
I did not push children into showbiz because I was an insane overbearing father. It was only after they decided to be in show biz became an insane, overbearing father.
Although both he and Jada agreed they were soulmates, Will writes that she, “Had questions about the viability of monogamy as a framework for successful long-term relationships”.
Other compromises included Jada moving into a massive mansion in California that she hated, and shelving the chance for her heavy metal band Wicked Wisdom to tour with Guns N’ Roses.
Will recalls one therapy session where Jada and he were asked to write down their biggest priorities, in order of most important to least. When they showed them to each other, Jada had written: “1. The Children. 2. Will. 3. Myself. 4. Extended family and friends.”
Will had written: “1. Me. 2. Jada. 3. The children. 4. My career.”
He recalls: “In the 25 years we’ve been together, I’ve never felt her more injured than in that moment.”
Things came to a head at Jada’s 40th birthday party, when Will had planned a lavish three-day schedule.
Activities included showing a bespoke documentary about Jada’s family history, before the screen lifted to reveal a surprise performance by Jada’s favourite singer, Mary J. Blige.
But far from being impressed, Jada told him to cancel the rest of the weekend’s plans.
Will writes: “‘CANCEL IT NOW!’ Jada shrieked. ‘That was the most disgusting display of ego I have ever seen in my life!’”
The pair did not speak for days, until Will eventually told her: “I retire from trying to make you happy.” They agreed to separate and focus on their own individual happiness instead.
The Smiths did end up back together, although Will recently revealed they are not monogamous.
Last year Jada also spoke about her “entanglement” with singer August Alsina, who claims they were in a relationship “for years”.
Will also doesn’t hide that his relationship with his children has also suffered due to his ambition.
He recalls a ten-year-old Willow, who had a 2010 hit with Whip My Hair, landing a 30-day European tour supporting Justin Bieber that went so well the record company asked her to go to Australia, too.
Willow did not want to go, telling her dad: “I’m ready to go home.” But Will says he would not take no for an answer, so Willow took matters into her own hands.
He writes: “Willow came skipping into the kitchen for breakfast. My jaw nearly dislocated, dislodged and shattered on the kitchen floor.
My mind raced and scrambled – how was she going to whip her hair if she didn’t have any?
“My world-dominating, hair- whipping, future global superstar was totally bald. During the night, Willow had shaved her entire head.
“My mind raced and scrambled — how was she going to whip her hair if she didn’t have any?”
He also recalls encouraging son Jaden to co-star with him on 2013 sci-fi movie After Earth, believing it would cement their bond.
But the film flopped and was panned by the critics, leading to 15-year-old Jaden asking to be legally liberated from his parents.
Will says: “Jaden had faithfully done everything that I’d instructed him to do, and I had coached him into the worst public mauling he’d ever experienced.”
He believes his son felt “betrayed” by him, so wanted to legally free himself from his parents, giving him the ability to pick future projects away from his father. He later changed his mind.
Now Will believes he has finally discovered the “subtle sickness” in him which leads him to hurt the people around him. “I’d conflated being successful with being loved and being happy,” he says.
And at an event yesterday to celebrate his book’s release, he told fans: “It’s really critical to suffer and to overcome adversity.
“The overcoming of adversity is how we gain wisdom.”
Will, by Will Smith (Century) is out now, £20
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