Will Smith is “deeply remorseful” for slapping Chris Rock at this year’s Oscar ceremony. On Friday, the King Richard actor broke his silence in a five-minute, 44-second video on his official YouTube page, titled “It’s been a minute…”
“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,” words on the screen read. Then Smith appears in a white “W” baseball hat and dives headfirst into those questions, which percolated after what has been called “the slap heard round the world.”
“Why didn’t you apologize to Chris in your acceptance speech?” Smith reads. “I was fogged out by that point,” he replies. “It’s all fuzzy.” Smith goes on to say that he has reached out to Rock, but “the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk.” According to Smith, Rock says that he’ll reach out to the King Richard actor when he’s ready to do so.
“So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you,” Smith says in the video, directly to camera. “My behavior was unacceptable. And I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
While Rock is seemingly not ready to talk to Smith about the slap, that hasn’t stopped the comedian from discussing the incident at his own shows. On Sunday, July 24, Rock co-headlined a comedy show with Kevin Hart at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. “Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock quipped during his set, according to Us Weekly.
Later on in the set, Rock reportedly said, “I’m not a victim, motherfucker,” and that he “shook that shit off” and returned to work post-slap. “Yeah, that shit hurts, motherfucker,” he said. “But…I don’t go to the hospital for a paper cut.”
In his video, Smith goes on to apologize to Rock’s mother and Rock’s brother, Tony Rock. “We had a great relationship,” Smith says regarding Tony. “Tony Rock was my husband. And this is probably irreparable.” Smith goes on to say that he’s spent the past three months “replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment.”
“There is no part of me that thinks that was that the right way to behave in that moment,” he says. “There is no part of me that feels that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”
Smith maintains that his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, did not ask him to “do something” after Chris Rock’s joke at her expense. “It’s like, you know, I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris—Jada had nothing to do with it.” He apologizes to his family as well as his fellow nominees. “It really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment,” he says.
He ends the video by addressing the people who considered Smith to be a role model before the slap and were let down by his actions at the Oscars. “Disappointing people is my central trauma,” he says. “I hate when I let people down.”
“I know it was shocking,” Smith says at the end of the video. “But I promise you, I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world. And, you know, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”