Will Smith broke his silence on the “slap heard ’round the world” on Friday, telling fans in a nearly six-minute video he is “deeply remorseful” for slapping comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards.
The video starts out with a message over the screen from Smith, saying that he’s “been doing a lot of thinking and personal work” over the past few months, and wanted to answer questions related to the incident.
In the first question, Smith explains why he didn’t apologize to the comedian in his acceptance speech, admitting that he “was fogged out by that point” and that “it’s all fuzzy.”
He said that he’s reached out to apologize to the comedian, and Rock said he would reach back out when he is ready for the conversation.
“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,” the “King Richard” actor said in the video.
“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” Smith said. “My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
The “Concussion” actor also extended apologies to Rock’s family, including his mother and younger brother, actor and comedian Tony Rock.
“I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview that Chris’s mother did, and that was one of the things I just didn’t realize. You know, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment,” he said, before apologizing to Tony Rock.
“You know, we had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man,” he said. “This is probably irreparable.”
Smith added that he’d “spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities 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,” the actor explained. “There’s no part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”
Smith also cleared up rumors that he slapped Rock onstage at the Oscars at the urging of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, saying with a smile that he “made a choice on my own” and that she “had nothing to do with it.”
Rock had joked about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, suggesting she would appear in “G.I. Jane 2.” Pinkett Smith has publicly shared her journey with embracing alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss.
In the rest of the video, the Oscar winner apologized to his family and friends, his fellow nominees and members of the Academy, and Questlove, who won the award that Rock was presenting.
“I am deeply remorseful, and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself,” he added. “Right? I’m human. And I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit.”
“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,” Smith said. “And, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
Rock recently joked about the infamous incident over the weekend during his “Only Headliners Allowed” tour stop with Kevin Hart at Madison Square Garden.
“Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” the comedian quipped, according to ET.
Days after the slap happened, Rock did not go into much detail about the incident while performing on his comedy tour. He told audience members at a show in Boston that he didn’t “have a bunch of shit to say about that” and was “still processing what happened.”