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Will Smith Stunned, ‘Emancipation’ Co-Star Spat In His Face After Veering Off Script, ‘Every Actor on This Set Was Taking it Really, Really Seriously’

Nine months after Will Smith shocked the world by slapping Chris Rock while the comedian was presenting during the 75th-annual Academy Awards, the legendary actor says he got his own surprise after his co-star veered off-script and spat on the Oscars winner during the filming of his latest film “Emancipation.”

The veteran actor recalled the incident during a recent takeover of “Red Table Talk” featuring his three kids: Trey, Jaden and Willow Smith. 

“As the years have gone on, I’ve gotten more and more locked into these characters for longer periods of time. And it’s just the weight of this story, the weight of these experiences — the quality of these actors. It was emotionally, it was physically, it was spiritually taxing,” the 54-year-old explained about his experience starring in the Antoine Fuqua-directed historical action film. 

“One of the first days on set, there was a scene with one of the actors,” Smith continued. “And then he leans down to my face and says, ‘You’re a cold one, ain’t you?” the actor added, before reenacting the off-script spitting and his subsequent reaction.

His kids found his reenactment quite funny, and eventually Smith joined in on the laughter before adding, “I was like, ‘Makeup!’ ” He continued, “No, but it was like … I was like, ‘whoa,’ every actor on this set was taking it really, really seriously. 

In his latest project, Smith plays an enslaved man named Peter, who “risks his life to escape and return to his family,” according to the movie’s synopsis. The film is inspired by the famed 1863 photo of “Whipped Peter,” and marks the actor’s first theatrical release since his incident at the Oscars last March. 

This is the only scandal “Emancipation” has faced amid its release. Hollywood producer Joey McFarland issued a public apology when folks took offense to his attempt to acknowledge the enslaved man who inspired “Emancipation.”

While speaking with the media at the red carpet premiere on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles, McFarland had what he claimed was the original 1863 “Scourged Back” photograph of “Whipped Peter.” 

“I wanted it to be here. I wanted a piece of Peter to be here tonight,” he told reporters at the time before the onslaught of criticisms ensued. In an apology delivered on Dec. 4, the executive clarified his intentions, writing, “My intent was to honor this remarkable man and to remind the general public that his image not only brought about change in 1863 but still resonates and promotes change today.” 

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