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Film

Will Smith breaks silence on Chris Rock slap in new video

In a new video posted earlier today, actor Will Smith broke the silence to discuss the famed “slap heard around the world.” For those living under rocks over the past few months, Smith slapped host Chris Rock during the Oscar Awards Ceremony back in March after the comedian made a risque joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 

Smith decided to apologise to Rock and the Academy by taking to social media and answering some of the burning questions still circling the internet. The first apology was aimed at Rock, who made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s close-cropped hair, perhaps not realising she suffers from alopecia. 

Answering the question of why he didn’t apologise to Rock in his acceptance speech, Smith said: “I was fogged out by that point. It is all fuzzy. 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 apologise to you. My behaviour was unacceptable and I am here whenever you are ready to talk. I want to apologise to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview [she] did, and that was one of the things I just didn’t realise.”

Continuing, Smith added: “I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment. I want to apologise to Chris’ mother, I want to apologise to Chris’s 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.”

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Smith then answered the prevalent question of whether his wife prompted his decision to run up to the stage from his front row seat to slap Rock in the middle of his award announcement speech. Rock, understandably baffled, managed to remain professional and continued his speech to say, “Will Smith just slapped the shit out of me,” as the actor returned to his seat and yelled for Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth. 

“No,” Smith began. “I made a choice on my own, from my own experience and my history with Chris. 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.”

Elsewhere in the video, Smith took the opportunity to apologise to some of the nominees whose Oscar celebrations were eclipsed by the unprecedented incident, including Jessica Chastain, who won Best Actress, and the cast of CODA, which won Best Picture.  

“To all my fellow nominees, this is a community,” Smith said. “I won because you voted for me and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove’s eyes – it happened on Questlove’s award – and I am sorry isn’t really sufficient.”

Smith concluded his address with “two things. One, disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down, so it hurts me psychologically and emotionally that I didn’t live up to people’s 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 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. If you hang on, I promise we will be able to be friends again.”

Indeed, the seismic event broadcast in an instant to fans across the world has left an impression that will be difficult to amend. It will be interesting to see how Smith’s fans react to his message of remorse. The actor now faces a ten-year ban from the Academy and undoubtedly some major ongoing damages to his career prospects. Is it time to forgive Will Smith for his erratic actions?