Will Smith knows that fans may be hesitant to see his first movie since slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.
“I totally get it,” he told Fox 5 in Washington, DC, in an interview. posted on YouTube on November 28. “If someone wasn’t ready, I would absolutely respect them and allow them their space to not be ready.”
Smith’s new movie, “Emancipation,” opens in theaters Dec. 9 and his “deepest concern” is that his crew will have a depressed turnout because of what he did.
“My biggest concern is my team,” he told the outlet. “The people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire career. And my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team. So at this point, that’s what I’m working for. That’s what I’m waiting for. I hope the material, the power of the film, the timeliness of the story, I hope the good that can be done will open people’s hearts, at the very least, to see, recognize and support the amazing artists in and around this movie”.
Smith, 54, slapped Rock, 57, across the face as the comedian presented an award at the Oscars ceremony on March 27. Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, being bald due to alopecia. The audience laughed, but Smith charged onto the stage with deliberate steps, slapped Rock across the face, and returned to his seat with the same measured steps.
Smith issued his first public apology to Rock the day after the slap amid mounting backlash. Writing on Instagram, in part, Smith said: “I would like to publicly apologize to you Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am ashamed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
A week later, Smith took more responsibility for his actions in a statement issued on April 1 that also included his resigns membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At the time, the organization was investigating the incident and exploring potential disciplinary action. On April 8, he issued a 10-year suspension from all organization events.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful and inexcusable,” Smith wrote. “The list of people I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, everyone in attendance and global audiences back home.”
“I was baffled at the time,” Smith said in part. “It’s all blurry. I contacted Chris and the message he got is that he is not ready to talk and when he is he will. So I’ll tell you, Chris, I apologize. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
Rock has performed stand-up routines since the incident. He addressed the controversy more directly on July 24 during his show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey.
“Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock said, later adding: “I’m not a victim. Yeah, that hurts, motherfucker. But I shook that shit off and went to work the next day. I’m not going to the hospital for a paper cut.”