Will Smith spoke to Trevor Noah on Monday night about the infamous slap at the 2022 Academy Awards in March. In his first big sit-down interview after the incident, Smith said his decision to slap Chris Rick was “horrific” and now he fears it might affect his upcoming projects. He told the talk show host Noah on “The Daily Show” that “bottled rage” led to the incident.
“That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. There’s many nuances and complexities to it, but at the end of the day, I just, I lost it,” Smith said while promoting his forthcoming film “Emancipation” on the show. “And I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody is going through,” he said. “I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all.”
The 54-year-old star said that what pains him most is that his actions made it “hard for other people.” “And it’s like I understood the idea where they say ‘hurt people hurt people,’” Smith said. Noah mentioned Smith’s 2021 memoir in which he highlighted how he was afraid of conflict growing up and afraid to fight. “It was a lot of things,” Smith responded. “It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know. All of that just bubbled up in that moment.”
The “King Richard” star said that the moment was “not who I want to be.” “I understand how shocking that was for people …. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time. But I understand the pain,” he said.
“But the one thing that’s killing me: ‘Emancipation’ is Antoine’s masterpiece and the idea that they might be denied because of me is like … ugh … that is killing me dead. And the thing that is so critical for me …,” Smith said. “I just hope their work will be honored and their work will not be tainted because of a horrific decision on my part.”
In April, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banned Smith from attending the Academy Awards for 10 years after he slapped Rock at the Oscars. Comedian Rock was on stage to present the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars when he made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, which is due to alopecia. Smith walked up on stage and hit Rock before going back to his seat and shouting: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”
Smith later apologized during his best actor acceptance speech. Smith won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams in “King Richard”.