Will Smith apologises on video for slapping Chris Rock at Oscars: 'My behaviour was unacceptable'


Will Smith speaks in an apology video for slapping Chris Rock at Academy Awards 2022 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video uploaded on July 29, 2022. Photo: Will Smith/YouTube

Four months after slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, Will Smith has apologised on camera for the move that shocked viewers around the world.

“It’s been a minute... Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work ... You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer,” reads the text opening the video he posted on Facebook Friday (July 29).

A sombre Smith, 53, then sits down in the video to do just that, beginning with answering, “Why didn’t you apologise to Chris in your acceptance speech?”

“I was fogged out by that point,” said Smith, who shortly after slapping Rock for a joke made about wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s short hair accepted the best actor Oscar for King Richard. Pinkett Smitt, 50, suffers from alopecia.

“It’s all fuzzy,” Smith added. “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 apologise to you,” he continued. “My behaviour was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Rock, 57, has been slowly opening up about the incident at the March 27 awards show in Los Angeles after keeping mostly quiet about it.

He gave his most revealing take over the weekend at his Sunday comedy show at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey.

“Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” said Rock, an eyewitness told Us Weekly. He also added, “I’m not a victim,” according to the magazine’s source.

In the video Smith posted on Friday, Smith also apologised to Rock’s mother.

“I saw an interview that Chris’ mother did and, you know, that was one of the things about that moment. I just didn’t realise — I wasn’t thinking — but how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologise to Chris’ mother. I want to apologise to Chris’ family, specifically Tony Rock,” he said, noting he and Rock’s younger brother, were previously very close. “This is probably irreparable.”

Smith said he “spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment”.

While he noted he wasn’t going to spend the remainder of the nearly six-minute video trying to “unpack” those realisations for everyone, he would make clear: “There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”

The incident in March led to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences initiating a formal review and ultimately hitting Smith with a 10-year ban on attending any Academy event.

In response to a question flashed on the screen asking whether Pinkett Smith instructed him to do something after she was caught on camera rolling her eyes at Rock joking about her starring in G.I. Jane 2, Smith said she did not.

“I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris,” said Smith. “Jada had nothing to do with it.”

He went on to apologise to his own family “for the heat that I brought on all of us” as well as to those who were nominated alongside him.

Shortly after Smith’s outburst, musician Questlove accepted the best documentary feature Oscar, his first Academy Award, for directing the film Summer Of Soul.

“It really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” said Smith. “I can still see Questlove’s eyes.”

Smith added that it pained him both psychologically and emotionally to have “let people down”.

“Disappointing people is my central trauma,” he said. “The work I’m trying to do is I am deeply remorseful and I am 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—.” – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service

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