Will Smith gives first main stream interview to Trevor Noah after Oscar Slap Incident
A new chapter in Will Smith’s life begins when he rejoins regular culture. Now that the publicity tour for his new film Emancipation has officially begun, the actor is making more public appearances than ever before—and with that, offering more justifications for his infamous Slap. Smith, a well-known oversharer, has chosen to lean into the situation by discussing the Oscars night attack of Chris Rock with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, as he did in his most recent interview.
The interview begins with a discussion of Emancipation (and Smith brings up filming for his National Geographic show, so okay, he’s not completely blacklisted). Finally getting around to discussing The Slap, Smith jokes that he has “no independent recollection of” the night of highs (his first Oscar win) and lows (his violent altercation with Rock).
But he adds, “That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. You know, there’s many nuances and complexities to it. But at the end of the day, I just—I lost it, you know? I guess what I would say… you just never know what somebody is going through.” You have no idea what someone else is going through.” He then addresses the crowd, listing the potential hardships that these strangers may be experiencing (such as the loss of a loved one, a dishonest spouse, a sick child, etc.). “You just don’t know what’s going on with people. And I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all.”
He further explains “I would just say, you’re asking what did I learn. And it’s that, um… we just gotta be nice to each other, man. You know? It’s like, it’s hard. And I guess the thing that was most painful for me is, I took my hard and made it hard for other people. You know? It’s like, I understood the idea when they say hurt people hurt people.”
Smith says, “It was a lot of things. It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know? All of that just bubbled up in that moment. … That’s not who I want to be.”
Noah responds graciously, saying that The Slap is not who he is and bringing up his dislike of the Hollywood Reporter piece that equated Smith and Letitia Wright with abusers and sexual assaulters. F“And again, what you did was fucked up. I’ll always tell you that. I love Chris. I’m friends with him. I love you, I’m friends with—but this is fucked up! But I was like, ‘This is not the same world,’ and that’s why it was weird,” To which Noah responds, “Some people were overreacting, which made some people underreact”
Smith says, “I understand how shocking that was for people, man,” He adds that he was “dazed” himself when it happened.
“My nephew, Dom, is nine. He is the sweetest little boy. We came home. And it’s like, he had stayed up late to see his uncle Will, you know?” Also, he had stayed up late to visit his uncle Will, you know. “And we’re sitting in my kitchen and he is on my lap and he is holding the Oscar and he’s just 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 misunderstand.”
He continues, “It’s like these top artists in the world have done some of the best work of their career. And the idea that they might be denied because of me is like… ugh. That is killing me dead, you know? And it’s like, the thing that is so critical for me is that these people came and they trusted me and they were down for me. And I just… I hope that their work will be honored, and their work will not be tainted based on, you know, a horrific decision on my part.”
Regarding his current mental state, Smith muses, “I think that was one of the big things for me over this last couple of months, you know, that I had to forgive myself for being human. And it’s like… trust me, there’s nobody that hates the fact that I’m human more than me.”
His current focus is on“finding that space for myself, within myself, to be human,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be Superman, I’ve always wanted to swoop in and save the damsel in distress. And I had to humble down, and realise that I’m a flawed human. And, um, I still have an opportunity to go out in the world and contribute in a way that fills my heart, and hopefully helps other people.”