Will Smith on the Oscars slap: ‘At the end of the day, I just, I lost it, you know’

Will Smith is currently promoting Emancipation, which will stream on AppleTV. It’s his passion project, and Apple put a lot of money into the production. Emancipation was on track, earlier this year, to be another Oscar-bait film and tour-de-force performance from Smith. Then on March 27th, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars and people in Hollywood have convinced themselves that the slap was simply the worst thing any actor has ever done. Keep in mind, Babylon will still have a huge Oscar campaign, complete with “Oscar buzz” for Brad Pitt, a man credibly accused of violently assaulting and terrorizing his then-wife and six children on a plane. But sure, the slap. In any case, Will’s promotional tour is already an extension of his post-Oscars apology tour. Last night, Will did his first big TV interview – with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Wouldn’t have been my choice for his first interview, but here we are.

Will Smith made his return to late-night television on Monday when he appeared on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah for the first time since he slapped Chris Rock on the Dolby Theatre stage at this year’s Oscars. When Noah asked the Academy Award winner about his journey in the months since the slap incident, Smith began by saying that it was “a horrific night.”

“[There are] many nuances and complexities to it, you know, but at the end of the day, I just, I lost it, you know,” Smith told Noah. “I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody’s going through.”

He continued by explaining that he was going through something that night, not that that “justifies my behavior at all.”

“You’re asking, what did I learn? And it’s that we just got to be nice to each other man,” Smith said. “You know, it’s like, it’s hard. And I guess the thing that was most painful for me is, I took my hard and made it hard for other people. You know, it’s like, I understood the idea when they say hurt people hurt people.”

Noah said he had a friend call him, saying he felt they saw the real Smith onstage that night, but Noah disagreed, saying he thought the actor just stood up for the wrong thing at the wrong time. The Daily Show host continued that things were becoming “relentlessly sh-tty” and Smith reacted for the first time.

“It was a lot of things,” the actor said. “It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know, is that you know, all of that just bubbled up in that moment. You know, I just that’s not who I wanna be.”

When Noah told Smith he thinks he made a mistake and doesn’t think that’s who the actor is, The Daily Show audience cheered, and Smith began tearing up. Later in the conversation, he explained that he had a lot of rage that had been bottled up for a long time.

“I had to forgive myself for being human,” Smith said. “Trust me, there’s nobody that hates the fact that I’m human more than me. And just finding that space for myself within myself to be human. It’s like, I want, I’ve always wanted to be Superman. I’ve always wanted to swoop in and save the damsel in distress, you know. And I had to humble down, you know, and realize that I’m a flawed human, and I still have an opportunity to go out in the world and contribute in a way that fills my heart, and hopefully helps other people.”

In an interview with Washington D.C.’s Fox affiliate ahead of his Daily Show appearance, Smith said he “completely” respects if audiences aren’t ready to see him in his upcoming film Emancipation, but that his “deepest hope” is that his actions during the 2022 Academy Awards “don’t penalize my team.”

“I completely understand that, if someone is not ready. I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” Smith told Fox 5.

[From THR]

I thought Will was right to apologize in the immediate wake of the slap, and he did so multiple times – he apologized to his family, he apologized to Chris Rock, he apologized to the Academy and the Oscars audience. Whether or not individuals accept his apology and move on, that’s up to them. But after seven, eight months? It’s giving Janet Jackson-at-the-2004-Super-Bowl. The powers that be are making an example out of a Black artist. There are too many people exhibiting performative and selective outrage about this sh-t. I wish Will would say that, although I know he won’t. He feels so guilty and his guilt is what the industry is exploiting. At some point, I hope he just says “it is what it is, I f–ked up but it doesn’t have to define my life from here.”

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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34 Responses to “Will Smith on the Oscars slap: ‘At the end of the day, I just, I lost it, you know’”

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  1. Emily_C says:

    I care what Jada thinks about this, and that’s about it.

  2. Neners says:

    I didn’t feel he owed anybody an apology, period.

    • Haylie says:

      I’m for more people slapping the shit out of that misgynoir troll Chris Rock.

    • DeniseMich says:

      Will Smith needed to apologize and Chris Rock needed a punch to the face.

      Will Smith should have given Chris his just desserts off-camera. If that had happened, it would play out like most Hollywood bullshit; did it or didn’t it happen.

      Chris Rock does not respect or like Women of Color.

      If Will Smith says that clearly, it will be problematic because it will look like he is not remorseful for his actions. It will allow the racist machine to say don’t give another black actor/black rapper a chance. It is more significant than him and that is why he is apologizing.

      Chris Rock is a selfish ass.. He should accept the apology. This should not be played out on a global stage dragging other black entertainers down. Which is what is happening right now.

  3. TheOriginalMia says:

    If certain people want to punish him, but not Pitt, Depp, Ezra Miller et al, then F’em tbh. He’ll never do enough to be forgiven by those people. At some point, he has to move on from this. If studios don’t won’t to work with him, finance your own shit. If audiences don’t see his movie, okay. May not be something they were going to see in the first place. But the apology tour needs to end.

    • SquiddusMaximus says:

      Same. I’m not a Will Smith fan, really, but he had OWNED his shit in a way so many men need to learn. “I’m sorry, I fucked up, I hate myself for it, but I’m committed to improving and this is what I learned.”

      Actually, everyone could take hard look and see if there’s a lesson in humbling themselves in this.

      Would love to see literally any other one of these douchebags be so open in owning their mistakes (ahem. Mr. Pitt, your cue).

  4. Jess says:

    I’ve been ticked about Hollywood’s reaction to this since day one and the racism on display now, after the details of what Brad did to Angelina and the kids has come out, is even worse. It’s so gross how heavily he’s being punished while Pitt (and too many other abusive white men) continues to be coddled.

  5. Leigh_s says:

    I like Will Smith, I always have. Its also always been glaringly obvious to me that there was a lot of rage and pain under the surface. Why and how? Because during acting scenes where involving pain/loss he makes me cry every damn time. He’s not the most skilled actor, he doesn’t disappear into a role. But he taps into something real every time for that work specifically and it breaks my heart.

    May he find the peace in his heart that he needs.

  6. Milygu says:

    I’ve honestly never felt much about Will one way or the other, but the way he’s been trashed after having, as he says, a human moment is just wrong to me. Selective and performative outrage is exactly what it is. I’ll stream Emancipation if for no other reason than to show support for him as he continues to deal with this crap.

  7. girl_ninja says:

    I love Will and I appreciate that he’s taken ownership of his part in what happened. I still understand where he came from though. I get it. Was it wrong? Yes. But I understand him. With all of the abusers and deviants in that the Academy continues to protect, they constantly show their hypocrisy and racism.

    Chris Rock still needs to sit down with himself and realize there is a part that he played in all of this. Because make no mistake, he is problematic as fuck.

  8. Mrs. Smith says:

    I saw King Richard a couple of months ago and wow — Will was incredible. It really made me sad that celebrating his accomplishment as best actor was marred by his own behavior. I agree it’s time to stop apologizing. He’s put in the work to heal, gotten some perspective and seems genuinely sorry about what he did. Now that some time has passed, it’s jarring that Pitt and Depp ( and now Kevin Spacey) are getting passes and more work, but Will, who had a regrettable moment, is still paying a price none of those other guys have had to face. I think an acknowledgment and apology from Chris Rick would help a great deal to end the whole ordeal so everyone can move on.

  9. Sean says:

    I feel if Will was a white man this ordeal would be an afterthought by now. I also feel like all of the “outrage” is coming from white people who regularly say/do problematic stuff that most don’t even bat an eyelash at. Where’s the outrage every time a (white) man sexually assaults a female presenter when he wins an award? Where’s the disgusted reaction when unrepentant sexual predators and domestic abusers win major awards?

    He slapped Chris Rock. Slapped him. He didn’t pummel Chris and then stomp on his ribs while Chris was in the fetal position. Chris didn’t even fall or hit the ground. He immediately told Will to “chill”. He was obviously a little shaken by the event however nothing but his pride was injured. No, it wasn’t the mature response to a distasteful joke but it was a human one. Especially considering Chris Rock has poked fun at Jada’s expense for decades.

    Oh and has Chris apologized to Jada yet?

  10. Jjone60 says:

    I get why he spoke to Trevor Noah first. Both grew up with alcoholic men, and both their mothers were abused by those alcoholic men. There are more similarities in their backgrounds.

    But yeah, it makes sense for Will to give the first interview to someone that can relate to his childhood trauma, and can understand how said trauma affects you as an adult.

  11. Frippery says:

    If Will Smith is at a place where he still can’t forgive himself, I feel for him. This sounds like it was a damn good interview, and I never thought about the pressure “America’s Nice, Non-Threatening Black Leading Man” must feel to be perfect, to keep up that image. Not even just his image, the pressure he must put on himself to always be grateful for his success, to stay humble, and to feel like he has earned it.

    I don’t think people should go around slapping other people, and Will Smith doesn’t think it’s right either, clearly. But it isn’t the worst thing in the world ever and I hope that he, and everyone else, can genuinely emotionally and mentally move on from it.

    I’m also stuck on the fact that Chris Brown just won an American Music Award and a Soul Train Award, but it seems like Will Smith is the one thats going to be punished forever.

    • Emily_C says:

      Well of course. Protecting a Black woman is bad, beating a Black woman is… I dunno, a Tuesday? Hollywood does not like anyone protecting ANY woman. You’re not even allowed to protect Angelina Jolie. But then it gets worse if you’re not a huge star like her, or if you’re not white.

      Plus Chris Rock is a right-winger, so they’re gonna protect their own.

  12. Menlisa says:

    My heart breaks for Will.
    I will support this movie, I am tired of White people always looking for ways to keep us Black folks down.
    He has apologized & taken accountability.

    What more do they want???

  13. Wilma says:

    Looking forward to watching Emancipation. I still like Will and understand what happened and think there has to be a point at which someone who has always behaved well and made one mistake has apologized enough. These were two grown men, not people with a huge difference in power. It says a lot about Hollywood how they react to something and how they react to other things. Very little introspection in that corner of the world.

  14. Sasha says:

    Team Will all the way. Of course he shouldn’t have lost control like that but it was a slap, not a fist and a lost eye! I watched Hitch on Netflix last night and (problematic as that film is now..) he’s such a charismatic actor. I’ve never heard of any bad behaviour on set ever. I think he’s a good person who made a poor decision. Give the man a break!

  15. Emmi says:

    Honestly, I’ve moved on. Can we all move on and recognize that it was nothing more or less than a mistake? I would like to hear apologies from a LOT of people, in Hollywood and more important places but clearly, that won’t be happening because people like Ezra Miller or Brad Pitt have been told all their lives that they’re the pinnacle of awesome and the status quo IS THEM. Who has to do an apology tour for defending his wife? A black man. I’m over it.

  16. AmelieOriginal says:

    We were all shocked by The Slap in March, none more than Will himself and Chris Rock. He’s apologized multiple times and been banned from attending the Oscars for a decade. Chris Rock has also touched upon the incident and I’m sure he’ll sit down and do some tell all interview at some point and discuss it. Will disappeared for several months and went to India and I dunno, did some some self-discovery. He’s done his penance I think. Things are still awkward obviously and will be for awhile but I hope he will be forgiven. He isn’t known for physical violence apart from this one incident or sexual assault. Mel Gibson somehow made a comeback after his anti-Semitic rants and abuse of a former partner. He shouldn’t be punished extra just for being black. And I get why he did Trevor Noah first, Trevor is the ONLY late night comedian of color but he also handles things with a lot of nuance and a lot of care. The other white late night hosts can’t do the same regarding this incident.

  17. Elo says:

    Will has done all he can do to apologize for something that honestly may not have even warranted an apology aside from the incident eclipsing the award that was given. I like Will a lot and I hope this fades away sooner than later so he can have his life and career back.

  18. shanaynay says:

    Regardless if it was a slap or punch, he got violent with someone else. I don’t give a crap if he’s apologized a million times, I could never support anything that he’s in. I’m not trying to teach
    WS anything, but don’t and won’t support anybody who chooses to handle situations with violence. He needs to get help, and I”m not going to forgot how violence was his answer.

    • Anonymous says:

      So I completely agree that violence is not an answer unless to defend yourself/potentially another from another’s violence. I won’t go into details, but I’ve spent a lifetime in serious study and practice of non-violence. I would qualify as a conscientious objector.

      That said, I believe it’s of the utmost importance that we as people and a society allow ourselves and others the grace and forgiveness to make mistakes, apologize, amend our behavior and move on. People are human and imperfect and when this happens, we can learn and grow. We cannot discard people forever over a mistake. All of us have made mistakes, maybe not big or public, but still mistakes that do not align with who we are and should not be allowed to define us.

      Given this, I believe that Will Smith should be allowed to make amends and we should forgive and forget and move on if we are acting as our highest selves.

      Funny, but it kind of all comes down to treating your neighbors as you would like them to treat you.

  19. Becks1 says:

    I was one on here saying at the time of the Oscars that Will Smith was wrong and I was really unhappy with what he did. And I still think it was wrong. But I also think he’s human and he’s allowed to snap when he’s just TIRED of someone going after his wife yet again. He apologized, I think Hollywood (and the world) needs to move on. I’m sure no one regrets what he did more than he does.

    I will watch Emancipation, it looks like an incredible and extremely moving movie.

    • Case says:

      Totally agree Becks. What he did was the equivalent of slapping a coworker at an office holiday party in front of everyone — it was unprofessional and unsettling, and definitely just the wrong move. It overshadowed his win and his fellow winners’ accomplishments, and that just sucked. That was what bothered me the most — there were some historic wins that night, and it was complete swept under the rug because the slap was all anyone could talk about.

      That said — and it shouldn’t even need to be said — that was nothing compared to violence and abuse many (white) men in Hollywood have done behind the scenes while still being praised. This incident should be treated as a blip, a slip-up, a misjudgment, not a career-ending action. He’s an excellent actor and I’ll absolutely continue watching his work.

  20. jferber says:

    Yes, he really did just lose it. And I’ve always been far angrier at that little shit, Chris Rock, who did not deserve all the himpathy and work that came his way. Rock provoked that situation needlessly. It’s Will I have sympathy for–he was protecting his wife, who had been taunted by Rock for years.

  21. Truthiness says:

    It’s waaaaay past the time where the Academy needs to expire their block on Will Smith. Just, enough already. He has his Oscar fair and square, the Academy needed to say or do something, but it’s abusive if they prohibit Will for ten years.

  22. Ann h says:

    I’ve read the comments and wonder what people would say if it was a woman he slapped. Would everyone still be as sympathetic. I think it’s just as disgusting if a woman hits a man, or anybody slapping somebody. He partied the night away, and his son said the next day “this is how we do it”. Will being sorry sounds hollow to me.

  23. jferber says:

    Case, perfectly said and absolutely right.