Will Smith described exactly how he felt on Oscars night when he slapped Chris Rock onstage. Smith issued a video apology to Rock months after his retirement from the Academy and received a 10-year ban from Academy events, including the Academy Awards. However, there is an appearance on November 28th The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is the first time Smith has spoken about his behavior that night.
Smith appeared The daily News to promote his new movie, emancipation. After discussing the film, Smith answered Noah’s questions about the Oscar slap.
Noah referred to Smith’s autobiography, Will, in which he describes growing up in an abusive home. Smith describes many of the coping mechanisms he developed in the book. Now, Smith admitted he freaked out when he heard Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
“At the end of the day, I just lost it,” Smith continued The daily News. “I understand how shocking that was for people, man. I was gone dude. It was a rage that had been bottled for a very long time.”
Smith himself said he was thinking about his childhood at that moment.
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“It was a lot of things,” Smith said. “It was the little boy who watched his father beat up his mother. It all just bubbled up at that moment. This isn’t who I want to be. This is who I want to be now man.”
Smith won the Oscar for his performance in King Richard after the hit. He distracted in his acceptance speech and attended Oscar parties to celebrate, but as soon as he got home, Smith’s family drove home what he had done.
“My nephew Dom is nine and he’s the cutest little boy,” Smith said. “We got home and it was like he stayed up late to see his Uncle Will. We’re sitting in my kitchen and he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar and he’s just like, ‘Why did you hit that man Uncle Will?’ Damn, why are you trying to get me to Oprah? I thought, oh, it was a mess. I don’t want to go into too much detail to give people more misconceptions.”
Smith called Oscar night “a horrible night” and never denied responsibility for the slap. He hopes that by seeing his snatch, people will have more compassion for any stranger they meet.
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In the months since the Oscars, Smith has worked to extend that compassion to himself.
“That’s been one of the big things for me over the past few months, that I’ve had to forgive myself for being human,” Smith said. “It’s like, trust me, there’s nobody who hates the fact that I’m human more than I do.”
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