"Deeply Remorseful" Will Smith Speaks Out 4 Months After Chris Rock Oscars Slap

After taking time away from the spotlight, Will Smith returned to social media to send a message to Chris Rock after slapping him at the 2022 Oscars. Plus, hear his apology to his family.

By Jess Cohen Jul 29, 2022 3:15 PMTags

Will Smith is ready to answer your questions about that Oscars incident.

Four months after the actor made headlines for slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, Will returned to social media on July 29 to reflect on the incident. "It's been a minute," an opening message read. "Over the last few months, I've been doing a lot of thinking and personal work."

"You asked a lot of fair questions," the note continued, "that I wanted to take some time to answer."

The nearly six-minute video then flashed to Will sitting down in a chair and reading a question about the incident: "Why didn't you apologize to Chris in your Oscars speech?" Speaking directly to the camera, Will—who won the Academy Award for Best Actor shortly after the onstage encounter—explained that he was "fogged out" at that point. 

"It's all fuzzy," the King Richard star said. "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. 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."

Celebrities React to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

Will went on to apologize to Chris' mother and younger brother. "I saw an interview that Chris's mother did," he noted. "And you know, that was one of the things about that moment. I just didn't realize that…I wasn't thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologize to Chris's mother. I want to apologize to Chris's family, specifically Tony Rock. Yeah, we had a great relationship."

"I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in in that moment," Will continued. "And I'm not going to try to unpack all of that right now. 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 is no part of me that thinks that's the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults."

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Will then clarified that he made the decision to get up and strike Chris on his own, moments after the comedian made a joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith—who sat beside him in the audience.

"I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris," Will said. "Jada had nothing to do with it."

He went on to apologize to his wife and family—which includes kids Trey Smith, 29, Jaden Smith, 24, and Willow Smith, 21—for "the heat that I brought on all of us."

Will, who resigned from the Academy and has been banned from the Oscars for 10 years following the incident, then addressed his fellow nominees. "You know, this is a community," he said. "It's like 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," Will said, referencing the musician who won the Academy Award for his documentary Summer of Soul directly after the slap. "You know, it happened on Questlove's award and, you know, it's like, I'm sorry, really, isn't sufficient."

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As for what Will would say to fans who looked up to him before the slap? "There's two things," he noted. "One, disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So it hurts. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn't live up to people's image and impression of me and 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 a human and I made a mistake. And I'm trying not to think of myself as a piece of s--t," he added. "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. And you know, if you if you hang on a promise we'll be able to be friends again."