Nearly 4 months after the fact, Will Smith has finally broken his silence on the incident at this year’s Academy Award ceremony.
In a almost 6 minute video posted to his YouTube, Smith talks at length about the incident and answers questions that many people have been asking since the slap.
Smith first answered why he did not mention or apologize to Chris during his Best Actor acceptance speech. Smith said that after the slap everything was “fuzzy.”
“Um, I was fogged out by that point,” Smith said. “It’s all fuzzy. 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. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
He also apologized to Chris’s mom, referencing a recent interview where she said that the King Richard actor, “slapped all of us.” He also brought up Tony Rock, who has been very vocal about his disdain for Smith following the incident. Smith said that he and Tony were good friends before the slap, and admits that he and Tony’s relationship is “irrepairable.”
Smith said that he has made some realizations in the months after the incident, admitting that he does not think he should have gone about handling the situation like that.
“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” he said. “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect, or insults.”
He also answered the question as to whether Jada said something to him after Chris made the joke and she rolled her eyes, to which Smith said she did not. “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it,” Will said.
After that, Smith went on to apologize to his wife and kids, and the fellow nominees and winners that night at the Academy Awards. He realizes that he had “stolen and tarnished” that moment, specifically mentioning Questlove’s reaction to the slap.
Smith closed out the video with a message to people who looked up to him and felt “left down” by his actions. He said that dissapointng people is his “central trauma” and doing such results in physical and emotional pain.
“Disappointing people is my central trauma,” Smith said. “I hate when I let people down, so it hurts, it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me, and the work I’m trying to do is, I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself, right? 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. And if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”