Bring It To The Table: Will Smith Says He ‘Fell In Love’ With Stockard Channing On Set

There are worse things Will Smith could do … than fall in love with “Grease” legend Stockard Channing.

But actually that’s pretty bad considering at the time he was married to then-wife Sheree Zampino, who had just welcomed their son Trey.

Smith starred opposite Channing in one of his first major dramatic roles, playing a charming con artist in the 1993 film adaptation of “Six Degrees of Separation.” The film gave Channing an Academy Award nomination and apparently Smith, who went full method for the role, a major crush on Channing.

In a passage from his upcoming memoir “Will” excerpted by People, the actor reflects on how he developed feelings for his onetime co-star.

“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,” Smith writes in the book. “She’d married a guy named Will Smith and now she was living with a guy named Paul Poitier [the name of his character in the film]. And to make matters worse, during shooting I fell in love with Stockard Channing.”

“After the film wrapped, Sheree and Trey and I moved back to L.A. Our marriage was off to a rocky start,” he continues. “I found myself desperately yearning to see and speak to Stockard.”

Will Smith and his then-wife Sheree Smith attend the “Six Degrees of Separation” premiere in 1993.

Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images

Now, this isn’t the first time Smith has gotten in his feelings about Channing, reflecting in a 2015 Esquire profile about the dangers of “going too far for a character.”

“My character was in love with Stockard Channing’s character,” he said at the time. “And I actually fell in love with Stockard Channing.”

“So the movie was over and I went home, and I was dying to see Stockard. I was like, ‘Oh no! What have I done?’ That was my last experience with Method acting, where you’re reprogramming your mind,” he added, explaining he would stay in character for a week at at time. “You’re actually playing around with your psychology. You teach yourself to like things and to dislike things.”

The experience made Smith swear off method acting for good, but his marriage didn’t survive, as he went onto divorce Zampino two years after the film hit theaters.

Channing, for one, was “very flattered” by his admission at the time.

“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,” she told Page Six back in 2015. “It’s amazing for me to hear that he felt that way, I’m delighted.”

Will Smith wed Jada Pinkett two years after divorcing his first wife, Sheree.
Will Smith wed Jada Pinkett two years after divorcing his first wife, Sheree.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images

Smith would, of course, go onto wed Jada Pinkett Smith, who regularly airs out the couple’s dirty laundry, including discussions of extramarital affairs, on her Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk.” Both have confessed on the show to having had sexual relationships outside of their decadeslong marriage.

“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison,” Smith told GQ about their arrangement. “I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

Expect to hear more nuggets of wisdom in Smith’s new book, which promises to tell “the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.”

“Will” is set to be released on Nov. 9.

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