Kevin Hart on His Appreciation for Will Smith Despite Slap: 'The World Should Step Out of it and Let Them Recover'

Kevin Hart is coming to Will Smith’s defense.

On Drink Champs, the comedian defended Smith when he was asked in his conversation with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN to choose between the King Richard Oscar-winner and Ice Cube.

“Dark times deserve fucking great light,” the 43-year-old shared at the two-hour mark of the above video, clearly referring to Smith, 54, slapping Chris Rock, 57, during the Academy Awards. “I’m not gonna shit on my brother. They both are my brothers, but I’m not gonna take the time to shit on them. I’mma say Will Smith, and here’s why: Will Smith is a fuckin’—he’s not only a legend, he’s not only a GOAT.”

Hart proceeded, with notable seriousness, to credit Will with giving a platform to Black actors and creators in Hollywood.

“Will Smith is the reason why the idea of African Americans attached to global IP is normal. … Studios took the gamble on more leads of color because of the work that Will Smith, Denzel were doing in the beginning, right?” he explained. “You need the faces that are giving the universal return. So I’m not gonna shit on Will and act like he hasn’t been, and wasn’t, that guy.”

Hart added, “And people make mistakes, and from mistakes they should be allowed time to fuckin’ recover. … And that this is no longer the world’s problem, it’s Will and Chris’s problem. Let them deal with that. The world should step out of it and let them recover.”

In more lighthearted news related to Hart and the slap, the Jumanji actor snuck a blinged-out goat into Madison Square Garden during a show featuring him, Rock, and Dave Chapelle in July. The farm animal was a gift for Rock—named Will Smith.

In a July statement to Rock, Smith apologized to Chris’ mom and family (including Tony Rock), saying he didn’t realize “how many people got hurt” by the slap heard around the world.

“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,” Will shared. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Smith added, “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.”