The incident occurred after Rock made an onstage joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, during the Academy Awards ceremony. “Jada, I love you. G.I Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” the comedian said about her shaved head — which is caused by the actress’ struggles with alopecia.
The King Richard actor then slapped Rock onstage, who attempted to continue his banter before Smith began shouting from his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth.”
While Smith has since issued an apology via Instagram, the actor also opened up about the situation during an appearance on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah this week, calling it a “horrific night.”
While he added that there were “nuances and complexities” to the moment, he “lost it” during the ceremony. “And I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody is going through,” he continued. “I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all.”
Smith noted that there “was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time,” and that the most painful part of it all was that “I took my hard and made it hard for other people. I understood the idea where they say that hurt people hurt people.” Noah then pointed out how in Smith’s memoir, the actor shared that he grew up being afraid of conflict.
“It was a lot of things,” Smith said in response. “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.”
Watch the full interview below.