After a series of online statements and low-key public appearances over the past few months, Will Smith took another step into the spotlight on Monday night, appearing for an interview on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” Promoting his new historical drama »Emancipation‘, Smith’s chat with the late-night host understandably delved into his Oscar night controversy, in which he slapped Chris Rock onstage as the comedian introduced the Best Documentary Feature category.
“I was absent,” said Will Smith, making the crowd laugh when the subject of his absence from the public eye was brought up. ” What did you do ? »
“It was a horrible night, as you can imagine. There are a lot of nuances and complexities. But at the end of the day, I just – I lost it, you know? Smith continued. “I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all… It was a lot of things. It was the little boy who saw his dad beat up his mom, you know? It all went down. just bubbled up at the time. That’s not what I want to be.
Noah chimed in, offering his own take on the situation and recalling discussions of the controversy he’d had with his peers.
“I love Chris. I’m friends with him. I love you, but it’s fucked up…I know as black people, black people come together and say, ‘What was Will doing? What the hell happened? A lot of black people were like, ‘He should go to jail’. Like, you need to relax,” Noah said, making Smith laugh. “Some people overreacted, which caused some people to under-react.”
Smith shared an anecdote from the aftermath of the Oscars night, when he was already dealing with the repercussions of his outburst in his private life.
“I was gone. It was a rage that had been bottled up for a very long time,” Smith said, “My nephew is nine. He’s the sweetest little boy. We came home. He’d stayed up late to see his Uncle Will and we’re sitting in my kitchen and he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar and he’s just like, ‘Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?’ Damn, why are you trying to get me Oprah?
Smith also discussed “emancipation,” sharing the decision-making that led him to the project. Based on true events, the film stars Smith as a runaway slave who becomes known to the world as “Whipped Peter” after widely circulated photographs of keloid scars on his back reveal the extreme brutality of slavery.
“The first time I saw that image was one of the things that really made me want to explore that, because you see the image, but you don’t know who he is. You don’t know what the story is,” Smith said. “American slavery was one of the most brutal aspects of human history… It’s hard to understand the level of human cruelty. asked, ‘Dad, do we really need another slave movie?’ I said, ‘Daby, I promise you I won’t make a slave movie. It’s a movie about freedom.
In a recent interview with vanity loungedirector Antoine Fuqua discussed the decision to release “Emancipation” eight months after Smith’s Oscar controversy, saying “the movie for me is bigger than this moment.”
“400 years of slavery is more than a moment,” Fuqua said. “I hope people see it that way and watch the movie and be blown away by Will’s great performance and all the hard work of the whole crew.”
“Emancipation” will debut in select theaters this Friday before premiering on Apple TV+ on December 9.
Watch Noah’s full interview with Smith below.