Will Smith is finally ready to talk about his infamous “slap heard around the world.”
The actor took to Instagram Friday, posting a lengthy video addressing the night he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars.
Four months after Smith climbed up on stage at the Academy Awards and accosted Rock for making a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor took time to answer questions about the controversy.
The clip, captioned “Thanx y’all,” begins with a text overlay that reads: “It’s been a minute … Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work … You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”
Smith is heard taking a deep breath as he dives into the Q and A, reading questions from an off-screen teleprompter before answering.
The first question asks why Smith, 57, did not apologize to Rock that night during his acceptance speech for Best Actor award, made moments after the slap happened.
“I was fogged out by that point,” he explained. “It’s all fuzzy.”
Smith explains that he’s reached out to Rock “and the message that came back is that, he’s not ready to talk.”
“When he is, he will reach out. I will say to you, ‘Chris, I apologize to you.’ My behavior was unacceptable and I am here whenever you are ready to talk.”
Smith added that he wants to apologize to Rock’s mother and younger brother, Tony.
“I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuance and complexity 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. No part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”
When posed with the question of whether Jada prompted his decision to slap Rock, Smith said “No. I made a choice on my own, from my own experience, and my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it.”
He went on to apologize to his wife, his children and the Oscar nominees whose accomplishments were overshadowed by the slap.
“To all my fellow nominees, this is a community. I won because you voted for me and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove’s eyes – it happened on Questlove’s award – and I am sorry isn’t really sufficient.”
Finally, Smith finished with this:
“Two things. One, disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down, so it hurts me psychologically and emotionally that I didn’t live up to peoples’ image and impression of me. The work I am 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 so I would say to those people, 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. If you hang on, I promise we will be able to be friends again.”
The March 27th act of violence earned Smith a 10-year ban from the Academy, but the real consequences came in the form of condemnation from the public.
Smith said he slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife’s hair loss — something she can’t control due to having alopecia.
After slapping Rock, Smith returned to his seat and shouted “keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth.”
Days later, Smith publicly apologized on Instagram, explaining that the punchline was “too much for me to bear” and he “reacted emotionally.”
Rock, while apparently not ready to address the issue with Smith, has recently cracked jokes about it during a stand-up comedy set earlier this month.
“I’m not a victim, motherf–ker,” he said during a show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on Sunday, July 24, reports US Weekly.
“Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock said.
“Yeah, that sh-t hurt, motherf–ker. But I shook that sh-t off and went to work the next day,” he continued. “I don’t go to the hospital for a papercut.”