Will Smith Once Shocked Oprah With This Tough Life Lesson for Jaden Smith

Will Smith once told Oprah Winfrey his thoughts on parenting his son Jaden Smith and the talk show host was floored by his approach, given that Jaden was 11 at the time. While she understood Will’s point, she responded, “but he’s 11.”

Jaden Smith, Trey Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith arrive at 'The Karate Kid' premiere Los Angeles
Jaden Smith, Trey Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith had a difficult time when Jaden worked on ‘Karate Kid’

During a 2010 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Will and Jada Smith sat down with the host to discuss, among other topics, raising their children.

The couple served as executive producers on The Karate Kid and Jada said of the experience, “this was the first time that Will and I worked so closely together in a very intense way.”

“I think we got over some huge hurdles because we’re very different creatures creatively,” she explained. “In us doing this movie together, we realized what our strengths and our weaknesses are and in which areas we can depend on each other.”

Will explained that one of the “major issues” the two had was about their approach to Jaden’s work in the film. “In my mind, I was teaching my son to hunt,” he explained. “When he’s making this movie, I’m teaching him how to hunt.”

For Jada, as a mom, that concept was not an easy one to wrap her head around. “I realized, because of that, I learned why, in African tribes, why men would come to the village and remove their sons to initiate them into manhood.”

“Because, as a mother, it is an excruciating thing to have to watch and I’m telling you that mother instinct kicks in.”

Jada said her priority was Jaden during filming

When Oprah mentioned the differences between child actors working in China versus the U.S., Jada admitted that it wasn’t easy. “It was a ferocious fight,” she said. “Let me tell you, I don’t play it. I will shut this … I will burn this whole city down.”

She continued, “My priority is Jaden … because it’s a balance. I tell Will, listen, I understand that there are certain things that you’re trying to put in, but at the end of the day, he’s 11 … we just had to find a nice balance.”

“I’m telling you, he’s a different child from his experience in China,” she added.

RELATED: Jada Pinkett Smith Revealed Why She Was Always Harder on Willow Than Jaden Smith

Will Smith shared his perspective on ‘greatness’

Will touched on a philosophy he has about greatness as it related to his son Jaden working on The Karate Kid and overcoming the challenges that came with it.

“I feel like greatness lives on the edge of destruction,” Will explained. “The reason that someone is great, is because they survived death. That’s what made you great. You were almost over. That was it.”

He continued, “When the phoenix rises from the ashes … In the face of destruction, you pounded on your chest and put your arms up and said, ‘I’m still standing, bring it.’”

Oprah, while understanding of this idea, questioned why that would apply to a kid. “I get that, but he’s 11,” she said.

Will explained, “11 is where you really learn it — you can’t do it when somebody’s 22. 11 is when he just learns that he doesn’t break. He learns he’s not breakable.”