UPDATE throughout: In a just-released video that lasts 5 minutes and 44 seconds, Will Smith has broken his silence over the regrettable “slap heard around the world”, in which he punched Oscars presenter Chris Rock after he being mocked by Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. This before Smith received the honors of the Oscar for best actor.
Apologies were expected, and Smith did so in the form of answers to questions posted on the Internet. While Smith was expected to choose a high-profile TV interview for his apology with Oprah Winfrey on a late-night talk show, he instead chose to sit down and calmly answer questions about social networks.
The first was for Rock, the comedian who made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s cropped hair, perhaps not knowing she has alopecia. Responding to the question of why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech, Smith said:
“I was foggy at that time. Everything is blurry. I contacted Chris and the message that came back is that he is not ready to talk. When he is, he will stretch out his hand. I’ll tell you, Chris, I’m sorry. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris’ mom. I saw an interview [she] did, and that was one of the things that I just didn’t realize. I did not think, but how many people were injured at that time. I want to apologize to Chris’ mom, I want to apologize to Chris’ family, especially Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. It’s probably irreparable. I’ve spent the past three months replaying and understanding the nuance and complexity of what happened in that moment. I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can tell you all that there’s no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave at the time. No part of me thinks that’s the best way to deal with feeling disrespected or insulted.
Smith asked if his wife prompted his decision to take the stage from his front row seat, only to hit a stunned Rock in the middle of his presentation of Questlove’s best documentary award for Summer of Soul. Rock handled it as stoically as one could imagine, continuing after saying, “Will Smith just slapped me,” as the actor took his seat and yelled at Rock to keep his name down. woman out of her mouth. Smith answered the question as follows:
“No. I made a choice on my own, based on my own experience and history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it. I’m sorry, baby, and I want to say sorry to my children and my family for the warmth I brought to all of us.
He also apologized to nominees whose Oscars went unnoticed because viewers were so stunned by the slap. This included Jessica Chastain, who won Best Actress, and the cast of CODAwhich won Best Picture.
“To all my fellow nominees, this is a community. I won because you voted for me and it truly breaks my heart that I stole and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove’s eyes – c happened during the Questlove award – and I’m sorry it wasn’t quite enough.
Finally, Smith finished with this:
“Two things. First, disappointing people is my main trauma. I hate when I let people down, so it hurts me psychologically and emotionally not to live up to the image and the impression that people have of me. The job that I’m trying to do is that I have deep remorse and I try to have remorse without being ashamed of myself. I’m human and I made a mistake and I try not to think of myself as shit so I would say to these people, I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you that I am deeply dedicated and committed to putting light, love and joy in the world. If you hang in there, I promise you we can be friends again.
It will be interesting to see the reaction. Many felt that despite an action that earned him a ten-year ban from the Academy, Smith was still a man worthy of admiration, who had a terrible time in the worst possible place to do so.
Apple will test global audiences’ willingness to welcome Smith back when released Emancipation in December. Although it was reported that the film would delay the release for a year – these reports were just false speculation – Apple will look into the film, especially after the release of its other big Oscar season, The Moonflower Slayerswill instead be launched at the next Cannes.
Emancipation is comprehensive, and sources said it’s been tested multiple times and scored very high. In the drama scripted by William N. Collage directed by Antoine Fuqua, Smith plays Peter. He’s a slave and the movie is a apocalyptostyle thriller about his harrowing escapes to freedom through the Louisiana swamps. When Peter reaches the North, he joins the Union army. During his medical examination, doctors were shocked when he stripped his shirt and bore scars from a near-fatal beating on his back. They took pictures and these were published in newspapers around the world. They provided macabre testimony to the barbarism and cruelty of slavery in the prewar South. So indelible that these images could be considered a precursor to the release of photos of Emmett Till and a video of the murder of George Floyd.
Smith is the star of the film, as well as the producer, which would put him into two broad categories. Some said if the slap hadn’t happened, he’d be one of the favorites to win the Best Actor Oscars back-to-back. I also heard that Emancipation is the best director that Antoine Fuqua has made since training day. We’ll see how the film fares, but Smith’s apology is certainly a first step in his return to the positive side of the Hollywood ledger.
Watch the video of Smith’s remarks below.