Will Smith Apologizes For His Infamous Oscars Slap In A New Video
“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment.”
On Friday, July 29, Will Smith broke his silence regarding the infamous Chris Rock Oscars slap. In a video posted to his YouTube Page, the actor apologized to the comedian and others, saying he feels “deeply remorseful” over the incident.
For those of you who need a refresher: During the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, looking like “G.I. Jane.” Smith appeared to not like the joke — perhaps because Pinkett Smith has a hair loss condition, which she’s discussed publicly. In response, Smith stormed the stage and slapped the comedian before returning to his seat.
Rock kept his cool, responding “Will Smith just slapped the s*** out of me,” as an attempt to defuse the situation. Smith then shouted from his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.” Later that evening, Smith won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in King Richard; he apologized to The Academy in his speech, but didn’t specifically say anything about Rock. The morning after the ceremony, Smith posted about the slap on Instagram, saying he was embarrassed over his actions. Smith was subsequently banned from The Academy for 10 years.
Now, in his new video, he elaborates further. The actor begins by saying he’s been doing “a lot of thinking and personal work” over the past few months, and acknowledging that a lot of people have questions about what happened — including why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his Oscars acceptance speech. “I was fogged out by that point. It is all fuzzy,” he said, before apologizing to Rock, his mother, and his brother, Tony Rock.
“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that, he’s not ready to talk. When he is, he will reach out. I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I am here whenever you are ready to talk,” he continued. “I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview [she] did, and that was one of the things I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking, but 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. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable. I spent the last 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 say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. No part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”
Smith then answered another question on some viewers’ minds: whether Jada Pinkett Smith had asked him to head to the stage and slap Chris. “No,” Smith said. “I made a choice on my own, from my own experience, and my history with Chris.” He also apologized to his wife and family, saying, “Jada had nothing to do with it. I’m sorry, babe, and I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.”
He also expressed remorse for overshadowing the other nominees that evening. “To all my fellow nominees, this is a community. I won because you voted for me and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” he said. “I can still see Questlove’s eyes — it happened on Questlove’s award — and I am sorry isn’t really sufficient.”
The actor wrapped up the video by saying that disappointing people is his “central trauma.” “I hate when I let people down, so it hurts me psychologically and emotionally that I didn’t live up to peoples’ image and impression of me. The work I am trying to do is, I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s*** 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 and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world.”
Smith concluded: “If you hang on, I promise we will be able to be friends again.”