March 27, 2022 will go down as an infamous date in Oscar history. That evening, Will Smith hit Chris Rock in the middle of the ceremony. The sequence, broadcast live, amazes the whole world. Several months later, the actor returned to his gesture and tried to explain it.
Will Smith explains the slap given to Chris Rock
Eight months after the 94th Academy Awards, marked by the violent slap in the face of Chris Rock by Will Smith, the actor of bad boys and I’m a legend begins a cautious comeback. This is the first time he has spoken on this subject, after a necessary period of withdrawal from the media. It is thus on the set of the Daily Show and in front of the presenter Trevor Noah that Will Smith, in promotion for the film by Antoine Fuqua Emancipation in which he plays the main role, is finally returned to this astounding gesture.
Brief reminder of the facts, on the evening of March 27, 2022, Chris Rock presents the American cinema awards ceremony and continues the jokes. But an awkward protrusion on the bald head of Jada Pinkett Smith, wife of Will Smith, does not pass with the latter. This one gets up, walks towards the comedian and sends him a monumental slap. Broadcast live, the sequence amazes the whole world. A few minutes later, Will Smith receives the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in The Williams Method.
Anticipating the reaction of the Academy of Oscars, which initiates disciplinary proceedings, Will Smith resigns himself a few days later.
“I was no longer myself”
Faced with Trevor Noah who asks him to come back to this dramatic evening, Will Smith speaks, and shows himself moved to tears. Citing a difficult personal situation at the time, he is in no way exempt from the violence of his gesture and its unjustified nature.
It was a horrible night. In reality, I just freaked out. I think you never know what someone can go through in their private life… Someone who has just lost their mother, someone whose child is sick, someone who has lost their job , someone who has just learned that he is cheated… I myself was going through something that evening.
But that in no way justifies my action. I learned from this event that we should be nice to each other. What was most painful for me is that I took out my pain and it was hell for others. It’s this idea, “hurt people hurt others”.
“It was the most total confusion”
This is not the person I want to be. (…) I understand how shocking it could have been for people. I was no longer myself, I had this rage contained in me for a very long time. My 9 year old nephew, Dom, the nicest boy in the world, asked me “why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?”… It was total confusion, I don’t want to say more so as not to give rise to more misunderstanding.
If the words appear sincere, this confession is also the place of a communication operation. This is why the presenter of the Daily Show does not overwhelm his guest. He points out that everyone has the right to make a mistake, and that Will Smith remains a beloved public figure. If Will Smith does not pronounce the name of Chris Rock nor does he reiterate his apologies – presented via a video broadcast on these social networks during the summer -, we can however hope that time will do its work and will eventually bring the two men closer.