On Friday, Will Smith published a video to his YouTube channel publicly apologizing to fellow actor Chris Rock for slapping him in the face during the March’s Academy Awards ceremony.
“I will say to you Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable. And I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk,” Smith said in a video titled “It’s been a minute…”
The March incident occurred over a joke Rock had made about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, is bald from alopecia and after Rock’s joke, Smith took the stage, struck Rock, and said “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth.”
Later that night Smith won the best actor category for his role in the Richard, Venus, and Serena Williams biopic King Richard.
The Men-In-Black star said he didn’t apologize to Chris Rock during his acceptance speech because “I was fogged out by that point. It’s it’s all fuzzy” but then went on to say he had reached out to Chris, was ready to talk, and apologized.
He also apologized to Rock’s mother, brother, and extended family saying “I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment.”
Smith also addressed his violent reaction and said, “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.”
He said he made a mistake and that he’s “trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit.”
“I promise you, I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world,” he said, echoing a similar sentiment to a poster hanging behind him that read, “the world is sick, love is the cure.”
The Ali actor also said “I made a choice on my own” and that he wasn’t commanded by his wife Jada to take action.
Smith apologized to his fellow nominees and said of the academy, “you voted for me. And it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment.” Smith resigned from the Academy after the incident and has been banned for 10 years from any awards ceremonies.
He also said “disappointing people is my central trauma” as he addressed how much it’s affected him to have let his fans down.
“It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me,” he said but did end the video with “if you hang on I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
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