Will Smith Finally Addresses Oscars Slap: 'Jada Had Nothing to Do With It'

Will Smith has issued a video apology to Chris Rock for slapping him at March's Academy Awards, saying that his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, had "nothing to do" with his decision to hit Rock.

In a move that overshadowed Hollywood's biggest night, Smith bounded onto the stage and struck Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke at Pinkett Smith's expense. Smith also shouted expletives at Rock after he returned to his seat in the audience.

While Smith had issued an apology to Rock via Instagram one day after the incident, the actor addressed the issue in more detail in a video posted to his YouTube account on Friday.

As the video started, a caption on the screen read: "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."

Will Smith emotionally apologizes Chris Rock
Will Smith (inset at Academy Awards, photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images) finally addressed his infamous March 27, 2022, Oscars slap (photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) of Chris Rock in an emotional YouTube video posted to his channel on July 29, 2022. Getty Images

Smith, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his efforts in King Richard minutes after slapping Rock, then proceeded in the video to read out the first question, which was: "Why didn't you apologize to Chris in your acceptance speech?"

"I was fogged out by that point. It's all fuzzy," Smith responded. "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, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk. I want to apologize to Chris' mother. I saw an interview that Chris' mother did, and that was one of the things about that moment. I just didn't realize—I wasn't thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment.

"So I want to apologize to Chris' mother, I want to apologize to Chris' family, specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man and this is probably irreparable.

"I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment.

"I'm not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There's no part of me that thinks that's the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults."

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are pictured on March 27, 2022, in Beverly Hills, California. In his video message, Smith insisted that his wife did not influence his decision to strike Rock. Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

"Jada Had Nothing To Do With It"

After Rock cracked his joke, Smith was initially seen laughing while Pinkett Smith, who was seated next to him, rolled her eyes. Moments later, he charged onto the stage and struck Rock.

Enquiring whether Smith was influenced by his wife to attack Rock, another question posed to the actor read: "After Jada rolled her eyes did she tell you to do something?"

"No," said Smith. "I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it. 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."

Smith then turned his attention to his fellow nominees, singling out Questlove, who was handed his Best Documentary Feature Oscar by Rock for his directorial debut Summer of Soul moments after the slap.

"To all my fellow nominees, this is a community. It's like I won because you voted for me," said Smith. "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, you know, it's like 'I'm sorry' really isn't sufficient."

Chris Rock
Chris Rock is pictured on May 24, 2022, in New York City. Aside from jokes alluding to the incident at his stand-up comedy shows, Rock has yet to publicly speak in detail about the Oscars moment. Raymond Hall/GC Images

"Disappointing People Is My Central Trauma"

A third question was then shown on the screen that read: "What would you say to the people who looked up to you before the slap or the people who expressed that you let them down?"

"So there's two things," said Smith in response. "One, disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn't live up to people's image and impression of me.

"The work I'm trying to do is I am deeply remorseful. And I'm trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I'm human and I made a mistake. I'm trying not to think of myself as a piece of s***.

"So 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."

The almost six-minute video, which showed Smith sitting solo, was also uploaded to the screen star's Instagram account.

The Incident

Smith slapped Rock at the Oscars after the comedian made a joke about Pinkett Smith's shaved head. Pinkett Smith has spoken about suffering hair loss due to alopecia.

On returning to his seat from the stage at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre, Smith twice bellowed at Rock that he should "keep my wife's name out your f****** mouth."

When he collected his Oscar several minutes later, Smith took the opportunity during his acceptance speech to apologize to his fellow nominees and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In the fallout, Smith later resigned from the Academy, which in April announced that the star would be banned from all of its events, both in person and virtually, for 10 years.

"I accept and respect the Academy's decision," Smith said in a brief statement following the announcement from the Academy of his ban.

Update 07/29/22, 11:40 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.