It’s been four months since the very surprising and very unexpected moment happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. As Rock was presenting Best Documentary on stage, he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. (Jada has been open about an autoimmune condition she deals with that results in accelerated hair loss, called alopecia.) The remark didn’t sit right with husband Will, who stormed the stage and slapped Rock across the face. The move stunned the room, the audience watching and the whole internet, which erupted after the slap.
Rock has spoken about the incident, recently saying during his current comedy tour that it “hurt” but that he “shook it off,” Us Weekly reported. Adding, “I’m not a victim.” Now, Will has finally broken his silence. On Friday, he shared a video on YouTube where he addressed fans’ questions and apologized to Rock, his family and fellow Oscar nominees.
In the video, Will addressed various questions fans have posed that he “wanted to take some time to answer.”
One question asked why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech (later in the night, Will went on to win Best Actor for his role in King Richard). Will said he was “fogged out” and everything was “fuzzy.” But he is apologizing to the comedian now. “I’ve reach out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk and when is is he will reach out. 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 also apologized to Rock’s mother, Rose Rock, who spoke about the incident in an interview with a local South Carolina news station after the Oscars. “When Will slapped Chris, he slapped all of us,” Rose said, according to EW. “But he really slapped me. When you hurt my child, you hurt me.”
Will apologized to Rose directly as well as Chris’ brother Tony Rock, saying, “I didn’t realize and I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment.”
Continuing on with the apologies, he addressed Questlove, who won the award for Best Documentary which Rock was presenting at the time of the slap. “To all my fellow nominees, this is a community. I won because you voted for me and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove’s eyes. It happened on Questlove’s award and it’s like, ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient.”
Will explained that Jada had “nothing to do with it” when asked if she told Will to do something. “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences from my history with Chris,” he said, while saying sorry to Jada and his children.
“I spent the last three months re-playing and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment. I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now,” Will said. “But I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
Ever since, he’s been working on himself. “The work I’m 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 s**t.”
To those he let down, he said, “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’ll be able to be friends again.”