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'That was a rage bottled for a really long time': Will Smith breaks silence on the Chris Rock "slapgate"

The Oscar-winning actor appeared on the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to also discuss his upcoming film Emancipation

'That was a rage bottled for a really long time': Will Smith breaks silence on the Chris Rock "slapgate"
Will Smith on the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • Swaroop Kodur

Last Updated: 11.17 AM, Nov 29, 2022

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Hollywood actor Will Smith made his first talk show appearance on Comedy Central's Daily Show, hosted by Trevor Noah, since the infamous "slapgate" back in March of 2022. Smith is currently promoting his upcoming release Emancipation, a film based on the heart-wrenching story of the former slave and an integral member of the abolitionist movement in 19th Century America, Gordon. On the Daily Show, he spoke extensively about the essence of the film and the core reasons he was drawn to the subject - in the same vein, he also spoke with great candour about the controversial Oscars night which, for many reasons, resulted in him almost getting ostracised from the inner circles of Hollywood. 

"That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. There are many nuances, complexities to it but at the end of the day, I just lost it," said Will Smith to host Trevor Noah, adding that one never knows what the person sitting to next them is going through and that, in all possibility, he too was battling a few emotions that Oscars night. Regardless, he says, it doesn't justify what he did eventually. 

"It was a lot of things - it was the little boy that had watched his father beat up his mother, you know. All that bubbled up at that moment but that's not who I want to be," Smith added in reference to the emotional brain fade, so to speak, that he encountered on March 27, 2022.

For obvious reasons, Will Smith's attack on comedian Chris Rock on the Oscars stage evoked countless extreme reactions from across the world with many even declaring that he must be jailed for his actions. Smith was the subject of unbelievable hysteria following the incident and although the main parties refused to address it publicly, global media had already run its trials. 

"I understand how shocking it was for people [but] I was gone, dude. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time. I understand the pain - my little nephew Dom, he is 9, he is the sweetest little boy. He has stayed up to see his uncle Will and we are in my kitchen, he is in my lap holding the Oscar, and he's like "why did you hit that man, uncle Will." 

"Damnit, why are you trying to "Oprah" me," remembers Will Smith thinking at that moment: "It was a mess - I don't want to go too far into it and give people more to misunderstand."

That said, Smith is also well aware of his commitments as an actor and the fact that the films he is part of also include several other artists who have poured their souls into bringing unique stories to life. "Emancipation is Antoine Fuqua's masterpiece. Bob Richardson (Robert Richardson), the D.P., Ben Foster - these top artists in the world have done some of the best work of their careers and the idea that they might be denied because of me. That is killing me dead. The thing that is so critical to me is that these people came and trusted me and I just hope that their work will be honoured and not tainted based on a horrific decision on my part."

Will Smith, interestingly, won his first Academy Award in the Best Actor (Male) category on March 27, a night he has gone on to describe as the best and worst night of his life so far. Emancipation will premiere on Apple TV+ on December 9.

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