Will Smith offered the most bafflingly belated public apology in recent memory Friday, posting a nearly six-minute long YouTube video telling the comedian how sorry he is for slapping the comedian across the face onstage at the Oscars last March after the standup made a joke about his wife.
“It’s been a minute…” the text at the beginning of the video reads. “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.”
We’ll leave it to you to judge whether this was an example of the actor’s Academy-level craft, but Smith says in the message that he didn’t apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech because he was “fogged out” by that point in the evening. “It’s all fuzzy,” he explains.
He hasn’t spoken with Rock yet.
“I’ve reached out to Chris, and the message that came back is he’s not ready to talk and, when he is, he will reach out,” Smith said.
Looking directly into the camera, Smith tells his victim, “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.”
He also apologized to Rock’s mother, saying that he didn’t initially realize “how many people got hurt.”
Smith also added, “There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment.”
Smith stressed that his wife, Jada Pinkett, had nothing to do with his actions, even though she was the butt of Rock’s joke—which was to compare her to Demi Moore at the height of her career in G.I. Jane 25 years ago.
“I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris,” Smith continue. “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.”
He also apologized to his “fellow nominees. I won because you voted for me, and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment. I can still see Questlove’s eyes. You know, it happened on Questlove’s award. And, you know, it’s, like, ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient.”
Smith said he struggled with the fact that he had let people down. “Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down,” he said. “I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself… I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit.”
He ended his video by saying: “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, you know, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
It wasn’t clear if he was referring to Rock or his fans in general.
For Rock’s part, being friends with Smith doesn’t seem to be on his agenda right now. At a show in New Jersey Sunday, he addressed the slap in his set, telling the crowd, “Yeah, that shit hurt, motherfucker. But I shook that shit off and went to work the next day… I don’t go to the hospital for a paper cut.”
Looks like he’s going to need a little more time.
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