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Jada Pinkett Smith Says Will Smith Hadn’t Called Her ‘Wife’ for a ‘Long Time’ Before Oscars Slap

Jada Pinkett Smith Elaborates on Her Separation From Will Smith in NBC Tell All Interview
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith revealed new details about her relationship with Will Smith after confessing that they have been separated since 2016.

During a preview of her Friday, October 13, NBC News primetime special with Hoda Kotb, Pinkett Smith, 52, revealed that she was surprised when Smith, 55, used the word “wife” to describe her when he slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.

“First of all, I’m really shocked, because mind you, I’m not there [in our relationship],” she recalled, reflecting on how she felt in the moments after Smith slapped Chris Rock. “We haven’t called each other husband and wife in a long time. … I’m really worried for Will, because I don’t know what’s going on.”

After Rock, 58, made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, Smith famously said, “Keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth.” As Pinkett Smith revealed earlier this week, however, she and Smith were already separated.

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According to Pinkett Smith, Rock told her he “meant no harm” right after the incident, but she was focused on Smith. “I was really worried about Will, and Will’s still talking because now he’s mad because Chris is talking to me,” she recalled. “And I go, ‘Chris, this is about some old s–t.’ That’s all I could think to say. And I couldn’t really take in his apology.”

Pinkett Smith dropped the bombshell about her separation from Smith in a preview of her interview with Kotb, 59, that debuted earlier this week. The actress also explained her and Smith’s hesitancy to file for divorce. “I think [it’s] just not being ready yet,” Pinkett Smith said in the clip that aired during the Wednesday, October 11, episode of Today. “Still trying to figure out between the two of us how to be in partnership, right, and in regards to how do we present that to people, you know? And we hadn’t figured that out.”

Pinkett Smith noted that there are “a lot” of reasons why her marriage to Smith “fractured” seven years ago. “I think by the time we got to 2016, we were just exhausted with trying,” she added. “I think we were both kind of just still stuck in our fantasy of what we thought the other person should be.”

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Despite the estranged couple’s issues, Pinkett Smith still has hope for a reconciliation. “I made a promise that there will never be a reason for us to get a divorce. We will work through whatever. And I just haven’t been able to break that promise,” she said. “We live separately.”

The pair — who tied the knot in December 1997 and are parents of son Jaden, 25, and daughter Willow, 22 — are one of Hollywood’s longest-lasting couples, but their marriage has come under scrutiny on more than one occasion. In July 2020, Pinkett Smith admitted to getting involved in an “entanglement” with August Alsina but noted that she was separated from Smith at the time. Smith and Pinkett Smith made headlines again in March 2022 when he slapped Rock for joking about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head at the Oscars.

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More than a year after Smith and Rock’s altercation, Pinkett Smith gave new insight into her dynamic with Rock prior to the slap. “I think every summer all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce. And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce,” she told People on Wednesday. “So, he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’”

Pinkett Smith was confused by Rock’s offer since she was still married to Smith. “He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No, Chris, those are just rumors,’” she recalled. “He was appalled. And he profusely apologized and that was that.” (Us Weekly has reached out to Rock for comment.)

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