Will Smith returned to the red carpet Wednesday night in Los Angeles for the premiere of his new Apple TV+ film, Emancipation.
After posing for pictures with wife Jada Pinkett Smith and his children, the superstar actor stopped to speak with reporters about the film.
Smith said he was deeply impacted by playing “Whipped Peter,” a slave who appeared in a famous 1863 photograph that showed raised welts on his back from whippings, and made it impossible for northern states to deny the horrors of slavery.
“For me as an actor, any time you work on a piece, you take away some of the character and I think the power of Peter’s gratitude is one of the things that I took away,” Smith told Extra.
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Smith has slowly been returning to public life after facing international condemnation for slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards on March 27.
In an interview earlier this week on The Daily Show, Smith told Trevor Noah, “I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all.” He added, “I was gone, dude. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.”
In addition to leading the cast of Emancipation, Smith also produced the film. The drama is directed by Antoine Fuqua and arrives in theaters on Dec. 2, before streaming globally Dec. 9 on Apple TV+.
See more photos from the premiere below.