After nearly four months of silence, actor Will Smith addressed the slap that was heard around the world at this year’s Academy Awards.
In a video posted to his social media channels, Smith said he was “deeply remorseful” for slapping Chris Rock on stage during the Oscars ceremony. “Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable,” Smith said.
Rock, who was there to present an Oscar for Best Documentary at the March 27 ceremony, told a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who was in the audience sporting a shaved head. In recent days, Pinkett Smith has been very public about her struggles with alopecia, which causes hair loss.
In the video released Friday, Smith said he reached out personally to the comedian, but Rock has indicated that he is not ready to talk. “I’m here whenever you’re able to talk,” Smith said. He also apologized to the comedian’s mother and brother Tony Rock, who have been vocal in the public about their dismay over the incident.
Smith said in the months since the incident, he’s had time to realize just how many people were hurt by his actions. “I can still see Questlove’s eyes,” Smith acknowledged in reference to how the slap overshadowed Questlove’s Best Documentary Oscar win for “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which Rock was there to present.
“There was no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” Smith said. He added that his wife Pinkett Smith did not encourage him to assault Rock and apologized to his family for bringing extra “heat” and scrutiny to them.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in April that Smith was banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years over the incident. He is still able to be nominated for awards, however.
Smith closed his video by addressing disappointed fans and those who once looked up to him: “I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human. I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s**t.”
He added, “I promise you that I’m deeply devoted and committed to bringing light and love and joy into the world. And if you hang on, I promise you, we’ll be able to be friends again.”