Will Smith Told Trevor Noah He 'Lost It' On Chris Rock In His First Post-Slap Interview
"Hurt people hurt people."
Will Smith opened up about the infamous Chris Rock Oscars slap in his first interview since it happened, telling Trevor Noah of The Daily Show that his "bottled up" anger was to blame.
Smith described the Oscar incident as "a horrific night" during his appearance on the show Monday, which was to promote his upcoming movie Emancipation.
"At the end of the day, I just lost it, and I guess what I would say; you just never know what somebody is going through," Smith said to Noah.
He admitted he "was going through something that night" but quickly added that it did not justify his behavior.
"I think the thing that was most painful for me is I took my hard and made it hard for other people," Smith added. "I stirred the idea that 'hurt people hurt people.'"
Smith stormed the stage during the 2022 Academy Awards and slapped comedian Chris Rock across the face in front of the entire audience after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her bald head.
After clocking the comedian, Smith returned to his seat in the audience and shouted back, "keep my wife's name out your f*cking mouth!"
The incident caused quite a stir in Hollywood and became one of the biggest pop culture moments of the year.
Smith has publicly apologized in social media statements and a video in the months since, but this was his first time addressing it in an interview. He also apparently has not been able to apologize to Rock in person.
Noah jumped in during the interview and said, "It felt like you stood up for the wrong thing at the wrong time," but attributed the slap to years of anger that Smith repressed.
"It was a lot of things. It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother," Smith said. "It's all of that bottled up in that moment. That's not who I want to be."
But people in the comments section under the video of the interview posted on the Comedy Central UK YouTube channel are not cutting Smith any slack.
One person commented it "didn't seem like a horrific night while he was dancing and laughing at the after-party."
Smith also ended up winning his first Oscar for Best Actor later in the night.
"Honestly, I love Will Smith, and I can, of course, easily forgive this one mistake, but every time he talks about that night, I lose a little bit of respect for him. No direct apology, just more excuses and platitudes," wrote another user.
"From the start, he's talking about how he's the victim. None of it is about the actual victim, Chris, and what it did to him," commented one user. "I do think everyone makes mistakes and deserves forgiveness, but that's easier to give if the perpetrator actually sounds remorseful for what they did instead of sorry for themselves."
The Academy banned Smith for 10 years as a result of the slap, although he is still eligible to win awards in the future.
Apple TV+ will release Smith's comeback movie, Emancipation, on December 9.
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