Will Smith is breaking his silence. Following the Oscars in March — during which he slapped Chris Rock across the face for making a G.I. Jane joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith — the actor stepped back from social media and the public eye.
Smith has now made his return and uploaded a video titled “it’s been a minute” to his YouTube page on Friday (July 29) to answer questions regarding the Oscars incident and issue another apology to Rock, as well as Rock’s family.
While answering the question of why he did not take the opportunity to apologize for the slap during his acceptance speech after winning best actor (King Richard), Smith said he was not in a clear state of mind.
“I was fogged out by that point. It is all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris 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,” he said.
Smith continued, “I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview [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. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable. I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuance and complexity 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. No part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”
Rock has yet to publicly talk about the Oscars slap at length, though has made jokes about it during his stand-up comedy shows. Smith apologized for his behavior in a formal statement posted to his Instagram on March 28; he additionally resigned from his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and has been banned from the Oscars and related Academy event for 10 years.
Watch Smith’s new video in full below.