Will Smith makes emotional apology to Chris Rock in new video: ‘This is probably irreparable’

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Will Smith is addressing the Oscars slap controversy in his first on-camera apology since the incident. 

The actor, who walked away with an Oscar for best actor the same night he slapped Chris Rock on the awards stage, released a YouTube video titled “It’s Been A Minute” Friday addressing some of the common questions people asked after the incident, including why he didn’t apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech. 

“I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy. 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,” Smith said. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you.” 

Smith said he “spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment.” 

“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,” he said. 

Will Smith and Chris Rock’s rocky relationship predates the Oscars slap by six years

What happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock?

During Oscar night on March 27, Rock was preparing to present the award for best documentary feature. During his intro, the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, saying that he couldn’t wait to see her star in “G.I. Jane 2,” referencing her shaved head. Smith responded by approaching the stage and slapping Rock.

The day after the Academy Awards, Smith apologized to Rock and the Academy in an Instagram post on March 28. 

‘Red Table Talk’: Jada Pinkett Smith addresses Chris Rock’s Oscars comments about alopecia

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith wrote at the time. “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.”

In Friday’s video Smith denounced his “irreparable” actions and extended his apology to Rock’s mother and his brother, comedian Tony Rock. 

“I saw an interview that Chris’ mother did and that was one of the things about that moment,” Smith said. “I just didn’t realize and I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment.”

Smith also said Pinkett Smith had “nothing to do with it.” 

“I made a choice on my own from my own experiences from my history with Chris,” Smith said. “I’m sorry, babe. I say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.”

‘When you hurt my child, you hurt me’: Chris Rock’s mom speaks out on Will Smith slap

The “King Richard” actor’s video continued with an apology to his fellow nominees, specifically Questlove, who won his first Oscar for his “Summer of Soul” documentary.  His winning moment was marred by the confusion that filled the room after Smith hit Rock. 

“I can still see Questlove’s eyes. It happened on Questlove’s award. It’s like ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient,” Smith said in the video. 

Questlove didn’t directly address the situation the night of the Oscars, but he did quip about it when presenting at the Grammy Awards the next week, asking that others stand “500 feet away from me” while he presented the award for song of the year. 

‘Stay 500 feet away’: Questlove makes Will Smith reference at the 2022 Grammys

Smith continued his apology, detailing the mental toll the March incident has had on him. 

“Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know that I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me,” Smith said. 

“The work I’m trying to do is — I am deeply remorseful — and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. Right? I’m human, and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of (expletive).”

Was Will Smith punished or charged for his actions?

Nearly two weeks after the Oscars and a week after Smith formally resigned from the Academy after his actions, the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banned Smith from Academy events, including the Oscars, for 10 years. 

“I accept and respect the academy’s decision,” Smith said in a statement to USA TODAY provided by his representative Meredith O’Sullivan at the time. 

Smith continued on Friday: “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,” he concluded the video. 

Consequences: Will Smith blocked from Academy events for 10 years, Board of Governors decides after slap

More: Will Smith and the ‘unfair’ burden Black men face

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