In a roughly 6-minute video uploaded to Instagram and YouTube on Friday, Will Smith apologized directly to Chris Rock and said he was “deeply remorseful” over his “unacceptable” behavior.
It marked his most extensive public comments since he slapped the comedian in front of a live audience at the Academy Awards—better known as the Oscars—in March 2022.
Smith said he has “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,” adding that he did not originally apologize to Rock because he was “fogged out.”
“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 then extended his apologies to Rock’s mother and his younger brother. However, Smith as Smith said—Chris Rock is still “not ready” to speak with him.
In the video, Smith said he took over three months to “work” on himself and now realizes how many people he hurt when he smacked Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards in front of everyone.
“I’ve spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment,” Smith said. “I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you that there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment.”
Smith’s outburst surprised the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers around the globe. It also sparked a social media flurry of discussion that lasted for weeks, igniting spirited discussions on toxic masculinity and other contentious issues. Rock kept his composure after getting slapped by Smith on stage, joking that it was the “greatest night in the history of television.” He also declined to press charges.
A few days after the Oscars slap, Smith apologized to Rock in writing, saying that he was “out of line” and “embarrassed,” among other things. But there was no direct video apology for his actions until now.
“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment,” Smith said, who seems to be fighting back tears in the emotional video. “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
Smith also responded to questions about whether Pinkett Smith had inspired him to charge the stage after being caught on camera rolling her eyes at Rock’s joke comparing her buzzcut to the one Demi Moore wears in “G.I. Jane.”
The actor said that his wife made no comments that influenced him to attack Rock.
“It’s like, you know, I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris,” Smith said. “Jada had nothing to do with it. I’m sorry, babe. I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.”
Rock has made passing jokes about the incident at stand-up shows since the Oscars, but he hasn’t yet gone into more detail. He has promised to finally “speak about it at some point.”
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