Will Smith Says He’s ‘Deeply Remorseful’ for Chris Rock Oscars Slap: ‘My Behavior Was Unacceptable’

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Will Smith discussed his altercation with Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars ceremony on Friday in his first on-camera address of the situation. During the lengthy and in-depth Q&A posted to his YouTube channel, the actor said he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions.

“It’s been a minute… Over the law few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work,” Smith wrote in the intro before responding to the fan-submitted questions. “You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”

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The first question Smith addressed was why he didn’t use his Academy Award for Best Actor acceptance speech to apologize to Rock, who he slapped minutes earlier after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I was fogged out at that point,” Smith said. “It’s all fuzzy.

He added that while he reached out to Rock in an attempt to reconcile, the comedian was not yet “ready to talk.”

“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 say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” he said. “My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris’ mother; I saw an interview that Chris’ mother did. And it was just one of those things about that moment, I didn’t realize, and I wasn’t thinking how many people got hurt in that moment.”

He continued: “I’ve spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and complexities of what happened in that moment, and I’m not gonna try to unpack all of that right now. But I will say to all of you, 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.”

Smith also shot down the theory that Jada instructed Smith to “do something” after Rock’s joke — “I made a choice on my own,” he said before offering an apology to his entire family — and to all the other Academy Awards nominees, specifically Questlove, whose Best Documentary win for Summer of Soul was overshadowed by the incident.

“It really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” Smith said. “I could still see Questlove’s eyes — it happened on Questlove’s award — and you know, it’s like ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t really sufficient.”

Smith then acknowledged the fans he lost or let down in the fallout of the incident.

“Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know that I did not live up to people’s image and impression of me,” Smith said.

“The work I’m 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.”

Smith said to his fans in conclusion, “If you hang on, I promise we can be friends again.”

In the aftermath of the infamous moment, Smith officially resigned from the Academy. Shortly after, the Academy imposed a 10-year ban on the Best Actor winner.

“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith previously wrote in his Academy resignation. “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work.” 

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