Still healing. According to Will Smith’s apology video, Chris Rock isn’t ready to make amends after Smith’s infamous Oscars slap.
Four months after Smith slapped Rock at the 94th annual Academy Awards for a joke Rock made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum shared a video on his YouTube, Instagram and Facebook accounts with a public apology to Rock for his behavior. In the video, Smith revealed that he’s reached out to Rock, who rejected his request to talk because he’s just “not ready” yet. “I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk,” Smith said in a message to Rock. “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,” Will said. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
Smith—who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard that night—also explained why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his Oscars acceptance speech. “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy,” he said. Smith also told viewers that he wanted to apologize to Rock’s mother, Rose Rock, who told WIS-TV in April 2022 that Smith slapping her son “hurt” her too. “When he slapped Chris, he slapped all of us,” she said at the time. ”Because when you hurt my child, you hurt me.”
In his video, titled “It’s been a minute…,” Smith confessed that he didn’t realize “how many people” would be hurt by his actions. “I saw an interview that his mother did. That’s one of the things about that moment I didn’t realize, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment,” he said. “So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother; I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Tony Rock [Chris’s younger brother]. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable.”
Smith ended his video by telling viewers that he’s spent the past three months since the Oscars “replaying” the moment with Rock in his mind. “I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the complexities and nuances of what happened,” he said. “I’m not gonna try to unpack all of that right now but I can say to you, there was no part of me that thought that was the right way to behave in that moment.”
As for Rock, the comedian has made references to the slap in at various stand-up performances in the past couple months, however, he has yet to speak about the moment at length. During a stand-up performance with Kevin Hart in July 2022, Rock responded to claims he was a “victim” of Smith’s. During a stand-up show on Sunday alongside Kevin Hart at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, Rock said, “I’m not a victim, motherfucker,” he said, according to Us Weekly. “Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face.”
He continued, “Yeah, that shit hurt, motherfucker. … But I shook that shit off and went to work the next day … I don’t go to the hospital for a paper cut.”
Watch Will Smith’s full apology video above.
For more about Will Smith, read his memoir, Will. The book, which was number one on The New York Times bestseller list, takes readers through Smith’s life, from his childhood in West Philadelphia and early rap career to his rise as one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars. The autobiography—which Oprah Winfrey described as “the best memoir I’ve ever read”—also explores a side of Smith’s life he’s never told before. “Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same,” the publisher’s description of the book reads. “Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home.”
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