In case you forgot the specifics, because March feels like a lifetime ago, as Rock was presenting the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, he made a few jokes about the famous faces in the audience. When he got to Jada Pinkett Smith, he mocked her bald head by saying, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Jada, who has been vocal about her struggles with Alopecia, was not amused. Will then strode on stage, slapped Chris in the face, calmly walked back to his seat and yelled “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”
As a stunned audience looked on, Rock presented the award to Questlove’s Summer of Soul, then moments later, Will won Best Actor for King Richard, offering an apology to the Academy in his acceptance speech.
In the days and weeks that followed, we were inundated with a multitude of think pieces about Will’s state of mind, his career prospects, Jada’s influence and the Academy’s response. However, until now we haven’t heard from Will himself.
The video starts with text reading, “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.” After a deep emotional sigh, the Bad Boys star segued into a difficult discussion about the incident and its aftermath.
Smith related that he was too “fogged out” in the moment to apologize to the comedian, but has tried to contact the Head of State actor. Though, he stated Rock isn’t ready to talk just yet.
“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. When he is, he will reach out,” the “Summertime” rapper said. “I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
The Men in Black star also apologized to Chris’ family, explaining, “I wasn’t thinking [about] how many people got hurt in that moment.”
Smith’s sincerity was palpable as he reflected on the time he’s spent dissecting his actions.
“I spent the last three months reclaiming and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment. I’m not gonna try to unpack all of that right now,” the Grammy-winner said. “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. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect, or insults.”
The former Fresh Prince continued to defend his wife against those who think she made him slap Rock, declaring, “I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it.”
Will acknowledged how his actions stained what should have been a special night for the other winners and nominees, specifically apologizing to fellow Philly native Questlove.
“To all my fellow nominees, you know, this is a community. I won because you voted for me. It really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” he said. “I can still see Questlove’s eyes. It happened on Questlove’s award and I’m sorry.”
It’s clear from his voice and body language how deeply embarrassed and disappointed in himself Will is. The Independence Day actor even admitted how much it hurts that he let so many people down.
“I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human and I made a mistake,” Smith said. “I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit.”
The bottom line is Will made a mistake. Was it a massive one on a huge stage? Yes. But would any of us want to spend the rest of our lives being judged on our worst, hot headed moment? Probably not.
Will Smith was one of Hollywood’s most popular, successful actors before this happened and he should be given a second chance to find his way back to that level.