Eight months after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Academy Awards, he made his first post-scandal talk show appearance on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah on Nov. 28. Of course, Will discussed the situation, while also promoting his new movie, Emancipation. “That was a horrific night, as you can imagine,” Will confirmed. “There’s many nuances and complexities to it, you know, but at the end of the day, I just lost it. I guess what I would say is you just never know what somebody’s going through. You just don’t know what’s going on with people. And I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all, but you’re asking what I learned, and it’s that we just got to be nice to each other, man.”
Will slapping Chris was triggered by a joke the comedian made while onstage at the Oscars. The joke was at the expense of Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett- Smith, when he said, “Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2.” The reference was due Jada’s shaved head, which is a result of her alopecia (hair loss) diagnosis. Will flew out of his seat and slapped Chris across the face while screaming, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!”
In his interview with Trevor Noah, Will said that there were “a lot of things that just bubbled up” in the moment that led him to slap Chris. “That’s not who I want to be,” he confirmed, later adding, “That was a rage that had been bottled up for a really long time.” He also started tearing up when he recalled coming home to his nine-year-old nephew, who was waiting up for him after the award show.
“He is the sweetest little boy,” Will gushed. “We came home and he had stayed up late to see his Uncle Will, and we’re sitting in my kitchen, and he’s holding [my] Oscar and he’s like, ‘Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?’ It was a mess. I don’t want to go too far into it to give people more to understand, but…” Will has been out of the spotlight in the months since the incident, and said that during that time he’s been working on “forgiving [himself] for being human.”
One day after the Oscars, Will publicly apologized to Chris in a written Instagram post. He eventually resigned from the Academy due to his actions, and has been banned from the Oscars for ten years as punishment. It wasn’t until the end of July 2022 that Chris spoke publicly about the situation. He once again apologized to Chris, but revealed that, at that point, the comedian was not willing to talk one-on-one. It’s unclear if they’ve spoken since.