Will Smith opened up about his now-infamous night at the 2022 Oscars in a new interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Monday night. Smith stole the show when he walked on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock in retaliation for a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Nearly a year later, Smith said that there was more behind that incident than meets the eye.
"I was gone, dude. That was rage that had been bottled for a really long time," Smith said when asked about the viral moment. He then described the moment when the reality of his actions finally hit him a few hours later, when he got home from the award show. He said that he suddenly felt embarrassed when he had to explain the situation to his 9-year-old nephew. He said: "He's the sweetest little boy. He stayed up late to see his Uncle Will. We are sitting in the kitchen, he's on my lap holding the Oscar, [and he asked] 'Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?'"
Smith remembered thinking to his nephew: "'Why are you trying to Oprah me?' I was like, it was a mess. I don't want to go too far into it to give people more to misunderstand." While Smith did not offer much in the way of an explanation for his actions, he did say that there was more to it than the public seemed to realize. At one point he said: "You just never know what somebody is going through."
Smith addressed the live studio audience rather than Noah as he said: "I was going through something that night. That doesn't justify my behavior at all. We just gotta be nice to each other, man. It's hard. I guess the thing that was most painful for me, is I took my heart and made it hard for other people. I understood the idea when they say 'hurt people hurt people.'"
Smith hinted that his own history with violence may have impacted his decision that night. He said that he felt he became "the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, all of that bubbled up in that moment. That's not who I want to be." He added: "I understand how shocking it was to people."
"I completely understand that if...someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready...My deepest hope is that my actions don't penalize my team."— Kevin McCarthy (@KevinMcCarthyTV) November 28, 2022
Will Smith on audiences who aren't ready to watch his films after Oscars. #GoodDayDC pic.twitter.com/2fc3XaXbMa
This was the first time Smith has opened up about this incident on a late-night talk show, though he has addressed it in public statements as well as one other interview with Fox 5's Good Day DC. However, many fans speculate that Smith and his family are reserving deeper discussions of this incident for their Red Table Talk series. In the meantime, this spring will be the first of 10 Oscars ceremonies that Smith is not allowed to attend.