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Will Smith Addresses Chris Rock Oscars Slap in Emotional Video

"There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment," Smith says in the new video, posted Friday.

Will Smith in a white cap and off-white polo shirt, speaking to the camera
Smith in a YouTube apology video, titled "It's Been a Minute..."
Video screenshot by CNET

Remember Will Smith's Oscars slap? Of course you do. It happened about four months ago when comedian Chris Rock made a joke about Smith's wife while hosting the Academy Awards, and Smith responded by walking up on stage and hitting him. Well, now Smith has posted a new video, in which he addresses the encounter.

In the roughly six-minute video, posted Friday on Smith's YouTube channel (it also appears to be on his Facebook and Instagram pages), the actor stares directly into the camera and apologizes to Rock. Smith had also issued an apology to the comedian on the day after the Oscars in March.

"So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you," Smith says in the new video. "My behavior was unacceptable, and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk." 

The slap came at this year's Oscars, after Rock directed a comment at Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, while roasting various celebrities in a comedy monologue. Rock joked about Jada's close-cropped hair. "Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can't wait to see you," he said, referring to Demi Moore's military buzz cut in the 1997 film G.I. Jane. Rock's brother has since said Rock wasn't aware Jada has the condition alopecia, which causes drastic hair loss.

Smith's slap and Rock's joke prompted a barrage of comments on social media, as well as a flurry of commentary in the press. Rock chose not to file a police report against Smith after the encounter. Smith resigned his membership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in April, and later that month, the Academy announced it had banned Smith from attending the Oscars for 10 years. 

The Academy didn't immediately respond to an email Friday about whether the organization or Rock had anything to say about the new video.

Smith's apology comes about 55 seconds into the video, which opens with text that says, "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." 

Smith takes a seat in a white chair, and a question appears on screen: "Why didn't you apologize to Chris in your acceptance speech?" (Smith won the 2022 best actor Oscar for his role in King Richard and accepted his award onstage after the encounter. He apologized to the Academy and to the attendees, but not to Rock.)

"I was fogged out by that point. It's all fuzzy," Smith says. "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."

Following his apology to Rock, Smith turns his attention to the comedian's mother, Rose, as well as to his brother, Tony, and the rest of Rock's family. 

"I want to apologize to Chris' mother," Smith says. "I saw an interview that Chris' mother did, and, you know, that was one of the things about that moment I just didn't realize. And, you know, I wasn't thinking." Smith appears to be referring to an interview Rock's mother gave to local South Carolina station WIS-TV, in which she said, "When he slapped Chris, he slapped all of us ... because when you hurt my child, you hurt me." 

Smith also apologizes to his wife and kids and to other nominees in attendance at the Oscars. He says his wife didn't tell him to "do something" after Rock made his comments. "I made a choice on my own, from my own experiences, from my history with Chris," Smith says. "Jada had nothing to do with it."

Of the slap, Smith says, "There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment."