Will Smith says he’s “deeply remorseful” for slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards and wants to apologize to the comedian.
Smith made the comments in a video he posted to his social media channels on Friday, saying he’s finally ready to answer questions about the incident.
“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,” Smith shares in a statement on screen.
The actor then walks into the camera frame and offers an apology to Rock.
“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,” Smith says. “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 mentions Rock’s family and says he now realizes they were hurt by the incident as well.
“I saw an interview that his mother did. That’s one of the things about that moment I didn’t realize, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment,” he explains. “So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Tony Rock [Chris’s brother]. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable.”
The King Richard star adds that there’s a reason he didn’t apologize to Rock on stage at the Oscars after winning the Best Actor award.
“I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy,” he says.
Smith notes he’s been reflecting on the incident and says, “There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment.”
As for people who looked up to him and now feel let down, he adds: “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.”
The Oscars slap saga began on March 27, when Chris Rock made a joke at the ceremony about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock ventured off topic as he presented the best documentary award, and suggested Pinkett Smith would star in a sequel to “G.I. Jane” due to her shaved head. Pinkett Smith has been open about having alopecia, which causes hair loss.
In response to the joke, Smith stormed the stage, slapped Rock in front of a global TV audience and twice shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth!”
Later in the ceremony, Smith gave a tearful acceptance speech after picking up his Oscar and made references to “protecting” his family. He apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees for smacking Rock and causing a distraction at the awards.
The next day Smith took to Instagram with a statement saying: “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.”
Smith resigned from the film Academy on April 1. Days later, the Academy’s Board of Governors held an emergency meeting amid fallout from the assault and Smith was banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years.
Watch Smith’s video below.