Four months after he slapped Chris Rock, 57, at the Oscars, Will Smith, 53, has finally addressed the incident to the public. The actor apologized to Chris in a video shared to his Instagram on July 29. “It’s been a minute… Over the last few months I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work,” a message from Will reads on the screen. “You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”
Will then sat down and began to discuss the incident. When questioned why he didn’t apologize to Chris during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, Will explained, “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy.” He continued, “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 I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable,” Will said, while looking directly at the camera. “I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview that Chris’s mother did. And that was one of the things about that moment I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking but how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize to Chris’s family. Specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. And this is this is probably irreparable.”
The King Richard star explained that he “spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and and the complexities of what happened in in that moment. And 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. There is no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
Will also clarified that his wife Jada Pinkett Smith had no influence on his decision to slap Chris, who poked fun at Jada’s bald head (she has alopecia) right before. “I made a choice on my own. From my own experiences, from my history with Chris, Jada had nothing to do with it.” He also said sorry to his children, his fellow Best Actor nominees, and Quest Love, who accepted his award right after Will slapped Chris.
In the video, Will was also asked what he’d say to his fans that are disappointed by his actions. “Disappointing people is my central trauma,” he explained. “I hate when I let people down. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me. 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 s**t.”
“So I would say to those people, I know it was confusing,” Will added. “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 you know, if you hang on a promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
Up until now, Will remained mum about the Oscars incident. At first, Chris also shied away from speaking about the slap. At his first show after the Academy Awards, he mentioned that he was taking time before addressing it. “I had like a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kinda processing what happened. So at some point, I’ll talk about that s**t. So I’m gonna tell some jokes,” he said at an April gig in Boston. In the months since the slap, he’s peppered his act with a few references to the incident. At his show at New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center on July 24, Chris joked about the incident and admitted that the slap did “hurt.” He also told the crowd that he’s “not a victim.”