Will Smith says 'Jada had nothing to do with' his decision to slap Chris Rock at the Oscars
The five-minute clip begins with a title card noting that Smith has done a lot of "thinking and personal work" over the past three months after he approached Rock during the live Academy Awards telecast in March and hit him in the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia.
Responding to a question about why he didn't explicitly apologize to Rock in his Best Actor acceptance speech later that night, the King Richard star said, "I was fogged out by that point. It's all fuzzy. I've reached out to Chris, and the message that came back is that he's not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out."
"So, I will say to you, Chris," Smith continued. "I apologize to you, my behavior was unacceptable, and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk."
Representatives for Rock did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Smith went on to say that the damage he did to their relationship — particularly with Chris' mother, who spoke out against Smith after the Oscars — was "irreparable."
The actor also stressed that there is "no part" of him that "thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment" or an "optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults" after Rock compared Pinkett Smith's shaved head to Demi Moore's in her role in the military-themed 1997 movie G.I. Jane.
He also said that, despite heavy speculation that Pinkett Smith's reaction to Rock's joke is what prompted Smith to assault him, his spouse did not instruct him to do so.
"I made a choice on my own from my own experiences and my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it. I'm sorry, babe," he said, going on to apologize to his other family members as well as Questlove, who won in the Best Documentary Feature category Rock was on stage to present when Smith slapped him.
"I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us," Smith said. "To all my fellow nominees, you know, this is a community. I won because you voted for me, and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove's eyes. It happened on Questlove's award, and it's like 'I'm sorry' really isn't sufficient."
Smith finished the clip by emphasizing that "disappointing people is [his] central trauma," and that it hurts him "psychologically and emotionally to know [he] didn't live up to people's image and impression" of him.
"I am deeply remorseful, and I'm trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I'm human, and I made a mistake, and I'm trying not to think of myself as a piece of s---," he said at the end of the video. "I would say to those people, I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world, and if you hang on, I promise we'll be able to be friends again."
Following the tense Oscars moment, the Academy banned Smith from attending any of its official events — including the awards ceremony — for the next 10 years.
Smith previously posted an apology on Instagram in which he said his behavior was "unacceptable and inexcusable."
Earlier this year, Pinkett Smith began an episode of her Red Table Talk show by calling for her husband and Rock to rekindle a friendship.
"My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out, and reconcile," Pinkett Smith said. "The state of the world today? We need them both, and we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that's keep figuring out this thing called life together. Thank you for listening."
Rock has joked about the experience during various stand-up sets in recent weeks, including at a performance at London's Royal Albert Hall in May.
"I'm okay, if anybody was wondering," he reportedly told the audience. "Got most of my hearing back… Don't expect me to talk about the bulls---. I'll talk about it at some point… on Netflix."
Watch Smith's new video message above.
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