Will Smith is continuing to atone for slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. During the March 27 award show, Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Smith wasn’t amused by Rock’s comment about his wife, so he walked on stage and slapped the comedian across the face during the live broadcast. Now, eight months after the incident, Smith revealed what his family thought of watching the incident live on TV.
On Nov. 28, Smith sat down for a lengthy interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show to discuss slapping Rock, as well as new Apple TV + film, Emancipation. Smith told Noah that the Oscars were a “horrific night” and hoped the incident didn’t define him. “That’s not who I want to be,” Smith said on the show, adding that he regrets all the “pain” he’s caused.
The actor got emotional while recalling his 9-year-old nephew’s reaction to seeing the moment on TV. “We came home, and he had stayed up late to see his Uncle Will,” Smith said. “We’re sitting in my kitchen, and he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar, and he’s just like, ‘Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?’”
Discussing the incident with Noah appeared to be difficult for Smith. “Damn it,” he said. He then tried to lighten the mood by jokingly telling Noah, “Why are you trying to Oprah me?”
Smith also said he could understand why so many people were shocked about that Oscars moment. He credited the on-air outburst to rage that’d been bottled up “for a really long time.”
“There are many nuances and complexities to it, but at the end of the day, I just lost it, and I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody’s going through,” he said.
Smith revealed he was “going through something” the night of the Oscars, but he made it clear that didn’t justify his behavior and that he was sorry for disrupting the show. “I guess the thing that was most painful for me is I took my heart and made it hard for other people,” he said. “It’s like I understood the idea where they say hurt people hurt people.”
Smith appeared to immediately regret slapping Rock. While accepting the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard later that night, Smith apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees.
After apologizing for the incident again the following day on Instagram, Smith ultimately resigned as a member of the Academy. The film institution also banned Smith from Academy events, including the Oscars for a decade.
“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said in a statement following the announcement, according to Deadline.
While Smith’s wife Jada and daughter Willow Smith either alluded to or directly commented on the incident, Rock has remained stayed mostly silent in the months following being slapped. However, he briefly referenced the controversy during a March 30 stand-up show in Boston.
According to Variety, Rock said during the show, “I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point, I’ll talk about that sh*t. And it will be serious and funny.”
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