Will Smith is answering questions about the infamous Oscars slap.
Of course, the Independence Day star slapped Chris Rock on stage during a live broadcast of the Academy Awards eight months ago. And while Will has spoken since then about his actions during that televised event, he hasn’t sat down for an interview to answer queries from journalists. That all changed on Monday, though. That night, Smith joined late-night host Trevor Noah on his well-regarded Daily Show to discuss what happened this spring.
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Will was apologetic throughout the sit-down. While he was on Noah’s set to promote his new movie Emancipation, the actor obviously addressed the shocking slap first. Recalling the March event as a “horrific night,” Smith said:
“That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. There’s many nuances and complexities to it. But at the end of the day, I just, I lost it, you know?”
And he continued:
“I guess what I would say is you just never know what somebody’s going through. You just don’t know what’s going on with people. And I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all. Not that that justifies my behavior at all, but you’re asking what I learned, and it’s that we just got to be nice to each other, man.”
Of course, Smith was going through a lot of emotional upheaval at the time. He was about to experience an incredible high, as he won an Oscar minutes later for his work in King Richard. But the incident, which centered on a joke Rock made about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s balding due to alopecia, brought up bad memories from Will’s childhood. He told Noah:
“It was a lot of things. It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know? All of that just bubbled up in that moment. … That was a rage that had been bottled up for a really long time. That is not who I want to be.”
And he added:
“I understood the idea when they say hurt people hurt people. … I guess the thing that was most painful for me is, I took my hard and made it hard for other people.”
There were some funny times in this new chat, too.
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At one point, the Men In Black star shared an amusing anecdote about how his nephew watched the Oscars at home that evening. When Will got back home after the tumultuous night, the boy confronted him about what happened on screen:
“My nephew is nine. He is the sweetest little boy. We came home. He had stayed up late to see his uncle Will. We are sitting in my kitchen and he is on my lap and he is holding the Oscar and he is just like, ‘why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?’ Damn it. Why are you trying to Oprah me?”
For his part, Noah tried to counsel Will a bit even eight months after the viral moment. Trevor told the A-list star:
“I love Chris. I’m friends with him. I love you, but this is f**ked up. I know that as Black people, Black people get together and go, ‘what was Will doing? What the hell happened? A lot of Black people were like, ‘he should go to jail.’ Like, you need to relax yourself.”
And the late-night host ended things on a forgiving note. Noah explained how he thought the controversy “shouldn’t define” Will’s legacy, and added:
“I don’t think any one of us in life deserves to be defined by our one f**k-up.”
Especially not the Emancipation team, who Will would be devastated if his controversy affected the film:
“It’s like these top artists in the world have done some of the best work of their career. And the idea that they might be denied because of me is like… ugh. That is killing me dead, you know? And it’s like, the thing that is so critical for me is that these people came and they trusted me and they were down for me. And I just… I hope that their work will be honored, and their work will not be tainted based on, you know, a horrific decision on my part.”
Clearly doing his own inner work, the father of four continued on his sit-down:
“I think that was one of the big things for me over this last couple of months, you know, that I had to forgive myself for being human. And it’s like… trust me, there’s nobody that hates the fact that I’m human more than me.”
Will, who is “finding that space for myself, within myself, to be human,” poignantly added:
“I’ve always wanted to be Superman, I’ve always wanted to swoop in and save the damsel in distress. And I had to humble down, and realize that I’m a flawed human. And, um, I still have an opportunity to go out in the world and contribute in a way that fills my heart, and hopefully helps other people.”
Well said. You can watch the full interview (below):
Quite the discussion. Reactions, Perezcious readers?