After four months of silence following “the slap heard round the world” at the 94th Academy Awards, Will Smith released a nearly six-minute apology video addressing the controversy for the first time since March. Back then, Smith walked on stage and struck presenter Chris Rock after he made a joke in poor taste about Smith‘s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and remained in the venue through the rest of the night, even receiving his award for Best Actor.
Titled “It’s been a minute…,” the video features Smith apologizing for his actions by answering some burning questions regarding what happened that evening. To start off, Smith addressed why he didn’t apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech for his role in King Richard. “I was fogged out by that point,” said Smith, noting that everything after was a blur. “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.” He also directly apologized to Rock once more, reaffirming that his behavior was unacceptable.
Smith also directed remorse toward Rock‘s family, particularly his mother Rosalie Rock who spoke out against Smith back in April, saying publicly, “When he slapped Chris, he slapped all of us.” He also addressed Rock‘s brother Tony Rock, fearing that their once strong relationship may now be “irreparable.” Tony was one of the most openly critical of Smith‘s initial apology.
Following the prolonged apology to Rock and his family, Smith addressed claims that Pinkett Smith had asked him to do something about Rock‘s joke. Rock had referred to Pinkett Smith as “G.I. Jane,” appearing to poke fun at her alopecia. At that moment, Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes at the jab and when Smith looked over at her, some assumed that she had told him to confront Rock on stage. Smith puts those rumors to bed, telling the camera while appearing to fight back tears, “It’s like, you know, I made a choice on my own from my own experiences and from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it. I’m sorry babe. I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.”
Smith also faced heat for how he tarnished the Oscars as a whole, specifically ruining the moment for Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson whose win for Summer of Soul was overshadowed by “The Slap.” Smith apologized to his fellow nominees, noting that stealing that moment from them is something that can’t be brought back through remorse. “I can still see the look in Questlove’s eyes,” Smith said. “I’m sorry really isn’t sufficient.”
To close out the video, Smith addressed the fans and everyone who was disappointed by his actions that night. He expressed his fears of not living up to expectations while also detailing the personal work he’s doing to move past the incident and grow:
“The work I am trying to do is, I am deeply remorseful and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit so I would say to those people, I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world. If you hang on, I promise we will be able to be friends again.”
Smith‘s status in Hollywood will be tested after this apology thanks to Apple‘s Emancipation from Antoine Fuqua. Given the actor’s long-held good standing within the industry, he still has plenty of support among fans who see “The Slap” more as a momentary lapse in judgment. After a 10-year Oscars ban though, it will still be a tough stigma to shake for the star.
See Smith‘s full apology video below.