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‘I’m Here Whenever You’re Ready to Talk’: Will Smith Speaks Out for the First Time Since Oscars Slap, Apologizes to Chris Rock and His Family, Nominees, and Others

Will Smith returned to social media on Friday, July 29, in his first public appearance in four months since he walked on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards and smacked presenter Chris Rock after the comedian poked fun at the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The Oscar winner apologized to Rock and his family as he answered questions from fans surrounding the Hollywood controversy. 

The 5-minute and 44-second video posted across Smith’s various social media platforms began with a brief statement: “It’s been a minute… Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and personal work… You asked a lot of fair questions that I wanted to take some time to answer.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 06: Will Smith attends Paramount Pictures’ Premiere of “Gemini Man” on October 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

The “King Richard” first addressed why he didn’t apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech for Best Actor for the movie above, stating, “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,” he continued. “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.”

The 53-year-old said he also wanted to apologize to Rock’s mom: “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.”

“So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother; I want to apologize to Chris’ family, specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable,” he continued. 

The “I Am Legend” star shared that he “spent the last three months replaying and understanding the complexities and nuances of what happened.” Smith said he won’t “try to unpack all of that right now” but clarified that “there was no part of me that thought that was the right way to behave in that moment.” He reiterated, “There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.”

Smith also denied the “Set It Off” star instructed him to assault Rock, sharing, “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris.” Jada had nothing to do with it,” he added before stating, “I’m sorry, babe. I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I brought on all of us.”

Elsewhere, the actor again apologized to the Academy and his community before admitting that “I’m sorry really isn’t sufficient.”

Many critics online appear to have moved on the incident, applauding Smith for his video, including one YouTuber who commented, “We all make mistakes. We’re not perfect. It’s how the person handles it in the end. Communication, showing transparency, you’re a strong one for that.”

“Will, you’re still loved brother. No man on this Earth is without mistakes. But every man is capable of admitting he’s wrong and apologizing, which you did. Glad to see you back around Sir,” added another.

Rock nor his team has yet to respond to Smith’s remarks.

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