Will Smith has apologized to Chris Rock for slapping the comedian at the Academy Awards earlier this year, speaking about the incident in a new video posted on social media.
“A minute has passed…” reads the text at the beginning of the video. “Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot and working personally… I’ve asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”
The first question Smith answered was why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech after he won Best Actor for “King Richard.”
Smith said he “felt a fog at this point” and the events “are all murky.”
Smith said he reached out to Rock and the response he received was that the comedian was “not ready to talk,” adding that when Rock felt ready, he would “communicate” with Smith.
“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” the new Prince of Bel-Air alum said. “My behavior was unacceptable and I am here whenever I am ready to speak.”
During this year’s Academy Awards, which took place on March 27, Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock, who was presenting, after the comedian mocked Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who starred in the nonexistent sequel to J. I Jin”.
The 1997 film starred Demi Moore as the first woman to enter Navy SEAL training.
Supposedly Rock made the joke due to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, with Moore notorious for shaving her head for the role.
Pinkett Smith has previously been vocal about her struggle with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that attacks hair follicles, by sharing social media posts about her hair loss and the decision to shave her head.
After this infamous slap, Smith apologized, resigned his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—the organization behind the Academy Awards ceremony—and banned the actor from any academic event or program, including the Academy Awards, for 10 years.
Smith also apologized to Rock’s mother, Rosalie, because he saw an interview she gave and how she got hurt by the situation. He also apologized to Rock’s brother, Tony, saying their former “great relationship” was “probably beyond repair”.
“That was one of the things I didn’t realize at that moment, and you know, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people were injured in that moment,” Smith said this week of the altercation.
As for how he felt looking at the incident, Smith said he’s spent the past few months “reviewing and understanding the nuances and intricacies of what happened in that moment.”
“I’m not going to try to unpack all that now,” he said. “But I can tell you all, no part of me thinks this is the right way to act in that moment. No part of me thinks this is the best way to deal with feeling disrespected or insulted.”
Another question Smith addressed was whether Pinkett Smith had told him to do something after she rolled her eyes at a rock joke. So he firmly said “No”.
“I chose on my own, out of my own experience, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with that,” he said, apologizing to his family for his actions and the negative attention they received because of them.
He said, “I’m sorry baby. I want to say sorry to my children and family for the heat you’ve brought us all.”
Smith then addressed his fellow nominees and winners, saying, “It really is my pleasure to steal and defame your moment.”
He specifically addressed Questlove, who took home the award for Best Documentary for his movie “Summer of Soul” moments after the slap.
“I can still see Koestloff’s eyes,” he said. “You know, this happened at the Questlove Award, and you know, it’s like ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t really enough.”
He then shared what he would say to those who had “looked at him” before the moment or those who expressed that his behavior that night had “let them down”.
“So there are two things: One, disappointing people is the central trauma that I experience,” he said. “I hate when I let people down, so it hurts.”
Smith said it affects him “psychologically and emotionally” when he knows he is “not up to the level of people’s image and impression” of him.
“…I feel very remorse and try to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself,” he said. “I’m human, and I’ve made a mistake. And I try not to think of myself as a piece of…”
Addressing those frustrated of his fan base, he added, “I know it was baffling, and I know it was shocking, but I promise you, I’m deeply committed to bringing light, love, and joy to the world. And you, I know, if you stick around, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.” .
Watch Smith’s full video below: