Will Smith Finally Makes The Real Apology He Owes Chris Rock

This March’s Academy Awards became one of the most talked about events of the year. During “Best Documentary Feature,” Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock over a remark about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett. The consequences of that stage-rushing and ensuing slap have been grave to one of Hollywood’s most respected careers. Since the event, Smith was barred from appearing at the Oscars for a decade. He released a short statement, apologizing for the actions. Now, four months after the incident, Smith releases a full apology, updating on the situation. He addresses both Chris Rock and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who received his first-ever Oscar for Summer Of Soul just seconds after the altercation.

“Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work…,” begins Smith in a statement. “You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”

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In the nearly six-minute video, a somber Smith answers a question: “Why didn’t you apologize to Chris in your acceptance speech?” He replies, “I was fogged out by that point. It is all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris [Rock], and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. When he is, he will reach out. I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I am here whenever you are ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview [that she] did, and that was one of the things I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment. I want to apologize to Chris’ mother; I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Tony Rock.”

Will’s statement continues: “We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable. I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and complexities of what happened in that moment. 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.” He drives home, “There is no part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”

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Smith returned to his actions at the March Oscars ceremony. Answering whether Jada Pinkett urged Smith to act. “No. I made a choice on my own, from my own experience, and my history with Chris. Jada [Pinkett] had nothing to do with it. I’m sorry, babe, and I [want to say] sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.”

Will also addressed a peer group, with members that have condemned his actions. “To all my fellow nominees…this is a community. 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 – it happened [during] Questlove’s award [win]– and ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t really sufficient.”

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In closing, Will Smith left two final points. “Two things. One, disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down, so it hurts me psychologically and emotionally that I didn’t live up to peoples’ image and impression of me. The work I am trying to do is…I am deeply remorseful, and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I’m human, and I made a mistake, and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of sh*t, 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. If you hang on, I promise we will be able to be friends again.”

Chris Rock has yet to react to the video.

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#BonusBeat: The March incident was discussed, in brief, at the top of the latest episode of Ambrosia For Heads’ What’s The Headline podcast: