“It’s been a minute.”
Those are the opening words of a new YouTube upload from Will Smith, notably marking the first time the actor has spoken out about the over-discussed Oscars slap incident since sharing his initial apology statement to social media back in March.
The nearly six-minute video, embedded above, sees the King Richard Oscar-winner answering what he says are “a lot of fair questions” he has faced since slapping Chris Rock during the Academy Awards broadcast.
First up, Smith, 53, explained why he didn’t mention Rock, 57, specifically in his Best Actor acceptance speech.
“Um, I was fogged out by that point,” he said. “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. So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
Smith also apologized to Rock’s mom and family (including Tony Rock), saying he didn’t realize “how many people got hurt” by the moment.
“This is probably irreparable,” he said of Tony, specifically. As previously reported, Tony has been vocal about the slap in the ensuing months, including during a recent stand-up set.
Speaking more generally on what he’s come to realize over the past few months, Smith—who was ultimately (and to much criticism) banned from future Academy events for a decade—said “no part” of him thinks he handled the incident in an appropriate fashion.
“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” he said. “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect, or insults.”
Around the 2:50 mark, Smith brought up questions he faced about Jada, namely whether or not she told him “to do something” after Rock’s G.I. Jane joke (Note: Jada has alopecia). Per Big Will himself, this is not true.
“I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it,” he said.
From there, Will apologized to his family, including his children, for “the heat that I brought on all of us.” He also apologized to his fellow nominees and winners this year, saying he has “stolen and tarnished” the moment, with Questlove—whose Summer of Soul won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar—getting a specific mention.
“I can still see Questlove’s eyes. … It’s like, ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient,” he said.
Friday’s video closes out with a lengthy message from Will for those who may have felt, in their words, “let down” by him. Such disappointment, he explained, is his “central trauma” and has caused him psychological and emotional pain.
“Disappointing people is my central trauma,” Smith told fans. “I hate when I let people down, so it hurts, it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me, and the work I’m trying to do is, I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself, right? I’m human and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit. 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. And if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
See the full video above.
The latest from Smith comes just days after reports surfaced on Rock having addressed the incident during a stand-up set in Holmdel, New Jersey. While Rock’s 2022 shows have a no-phone policy, an “eyewitness” was reported to have told Us Weekly that Rock said he’s “not a victim” in the situation.
Next up, Smith is set to be seen in Training Day director Antoine Fuqua’s new film Emancipation. The Apple-backed release was revealed earlier this year to likely be delayed until 2023 due to numerous factors, with Variety also noting the strong early buzz surrounding Smith’s performance.