Will Smith is ready to speak on his actions.
In a solo sit-down chat, the actor vulnerably confronted the now-infamous Oscars 2022 slap incident, where he physically struck host Chris Rock for making a GI Jane joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her shaved head. She has previously opened up about struggling with alopecia.
After four months of radio silence and mere days after Rock publicly spoke out about the situation for the first time, the actor uploaded a new YouTube video explaining his thoughts in the moment of the occurrence and addressing a few recurring questions he has received as a result.
A text statement opened the video before Smith appeared on-screen: “It’s been a minute… Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work…” it read. “You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”
The Bad Boys star emerged and immediately cut to the chase, jumping right into the topic at hand with explanations to fans and apologies aimed toward not only the comedian, but his mother, familyand colleagues.
The first question he addressed, “Why didn’t you apologize to Chris in your acceptance speech?” Offered insight into what was going through his mind immediately after the confrontation. “I was fogged out by that point,” he said, adding, “It’s all fuzzy. 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 .”
As a result of not yet being able to get in direct contact with Rock, he then emotionally apologized to the comedian. “Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk,” the King Richard star said.
He then offered his regret to the Top Five comedian’s mother and brother, admitting that one of the things about it was that he “didn’t realize, and wasn’t thinking [of] how many people got hurt in that moment.”
“I want to apologize to Chris’ mother; I want to apologize to Chris’ family, specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship,” Smith noted, adding that, “This is probably irreparable.”
In the nearly six-minute emotional video, he dissected the state of affairs from the March 27 evening. “I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment,” he divulged. “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.”
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Answering the question, “After Jada rolled her eyes, did she tell you to do something?” the actor responded, “No,” confessing that he “made a choice” on his own based on his “own experiences and history with Chris,” confirming that “Jada had nothing to do with it.” He then conveyed repentance to his own family and children, assuming full responsibility for the “heat” all parties have received as a result of his actions.
As the The Pursuit of Happiness The actor continued to unpack his sentiments, he offered apologies to his fellow Oscar nominees. “It really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” he admitted. “I’m sorry really isn’t sufficient.”
Smith addressed a final question regarding what he would say to people who looked up to him or expressed that he let them down. The actor pointed out that “disappointing people” is his “central trauma,” confessing that he “hates” letting people down. “It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me.”
In his personal journey with working through this traumatic situation, he explained that he is “deeply remorseful,” but trying not to be “ashamed” of himself.
“I’m human and I made a mistake,” the actor said, taking ownership for his actions. “I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of sh*t, so I would say to those people… I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted to putting light, love and joy into the world.”
In closing, he offered this commitment: “If you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.” If nothing else, the desire to accept full accountability and put it out into the world is admirable.
Smith resigned from the Academy shortly after the incident and has since been banned from its awards events for ten years.