Apple has shared the first trailer for Emancipation, the historical drama starring Will Smith in his first major role since the infamous Oscars slap.
The striking clip features Smith as Peter, a slave who escapes from a Louisiana plantation to join the Union Army’s fight against the Confederate States Army in the Civil War. The story is based on the true story of Gordon, also known as “Whipped Peter,” who had photographs of his heavily scarred back published worldwide in 1863. The cast also features Ben Foster, Charmaine Bingwa, and Steven Ogg.
While production on the film predates Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, Emancipation was delayed to 2023 earlier this year. Alongside the arrival of the first trailer, Apple confirmed that the Antoine Fuqua-directed film will debut in theaters on Dec. 2 and will be available to stream on Apple TV+ on Dec. 9.
In a post shared on Instagram, Smith described Emancipation as the “hardest movie I’ve ever made.” He added, “Blood, sweat & tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world.”
The movie had its first screening at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st Annual Legislative Conference on Saturday, Oct. 1. “Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films that were set in slavery,” Smith said at the screening. “I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith.”
Following the slap, Smith was banned from attending the Oscars for the next decade. He’s not barred from being nominated for any awards, though, so if buzz around Emancipation continues to build it’s possible Smith or the film could get a nod next year. The actor walked away from the controversial moment with the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Check out the trailer up top and the poster below.