After spectacularly bombing in 2013, it’s easy to forget that After Earth is a movie that not only exists, but also marked a unique collaboration between Will Smith and director M. Night Shymalan. The sci-fi film was based on an original story by Smith, and at the time, the actor famously included his son Jaden in the lead role. Unfortunately, the film ended up being an epic disaster, and while most people left the film in the dustbin of time, never to be thought of again, Will Smith has opened up about the disastrous experience in his new memoir, Will.
According to Smith, the fallout from After Earth was so bad that Jaden actually asked to be emancipated, which deeply affected his father. Via PEOPLE:
“Fans and the press were absolutely vicious; they said and printed things about Jaden that I refuse to repeat. 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.”
“We never discussed it, but I know he felt betrayed. He felt misled, and he lost his trust in my leadership,” Smith continues. “At fifteen years old, when Jaden asked about being an emancipated minor, my heart shattered. He ultimately decided against it, but it sucks to feel like you’ve hurt your kids.”
While Jaden never followed through on being emancipated, the After Earth experience left its mark. He pulled back from acting and has only starred in a handful of projects since the 2013 flop. However, like his dad, Jaden has always had a foot in both the acting and music world, and he’s been leaving heavily into the latter thanks to frequent collaborations with Justin Bieber.