Will Smith has spoken out for the first time since his controversial appearance at this year’s Oscars. The actor took the stage and forcibly slapped presenter Chris Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith released a video to Deadline where he fielded a few questions regarding the incident. Later in the evening after the slap, Smith won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in King Richard. However, Smith did not acknowledge the incident in his speech. Nor has he Spoken to Rock since.
“I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy,” Smith said. “I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. And when he is, he will reach out. So I will say to you Chris I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable. And I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.
Smith reflected on the number of people who were affected by his actions, especially Rock’s family members. He expressed remorse over how his actions affected their lives.
“I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview that Chris’s mother did. And, you know, that was one of the things about that moment. I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking but how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize to Chris’s family. Specifically Tony Rock [Chris Rock’s brother], you know, we had a great relationship. You know, Tony Rock was my man. And this is probably irreparable.”
Smith Looks Back on His Choice
The actor made it clear that his wife in no way told him to do something after Rock’s joke. Smith said he made his own choice based on his experience with Chris and Jada had nothing to do with it.
“I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment,” Smith said. “And I’m not gonna try to unpack all of that right now. But I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
He went on to apologize for the “heat” he brought onto his family. And for dishonoring his fellow nominees and the Acadamy Award community who nominated him in the first place.
Smith concluded his video message by saying he hurt himself through his actions. He said disappointing people is his “central trauma.” Most of all, he’s trying to learn from it. He said he feels, “deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself.”
“I know it was confusing. I know it was shocking,” Smith said. “But I promise you, I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world. And, you know, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”