Will Smith Apologizes to Chris Rock in Emotional Video

Following this past March's Academy Awards, which was infamously highlighted by Will Smith unexpectedly slapping Chris Rock on live air minutes before the former would win Best Actor, Smith has apologized to Rock in a new video posted on his YouTube channel. The King Richard actor opened the video with a title card that reads, "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 immediately addresses the controversy, noting he didn't apologize to Rock in his acceptance speech because he was "fogged out at that point."

"It's all fuzzy. I've reached out to Chris and the message that came back is he is not ready to talk," Smith explained. "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." 

Smith continued by extending his apology towards the Rock family.

"I want to apologize to Chris's mother. I saw an interview that Chris's mother did, and that was one of the things about that moment," Chris continued. "I didn't realize and I wasn't thinking [about] how many people got hurt in that moment. I want to apologize to Chris's mother, I want to apologize to Chris's family, specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man, and this is probably irreparable."

Rock's mother, Rosalie Rock, said in a past interview that the slap affected her entire family.

"When he slapped Chris, he slapped all of us. He really slapped me," Rosalie said. "You reacted to your wife giving you the side-eye and you went and made her day because she was mulled over laughing when it happened."

The acclaimed actor noted he has been working on himself since the ceremony, and knows that his decision that night was ultimately the wrong one.

"I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment," Smith said. "And I'm not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you [that] 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."

Smith continued by saying the choice was "his own" and that his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, had nothing to do with it. He concluded the apology video but noting that he's "human" and he "made a mistake," but he is "trying not to think of [himself] as a piece of s--t."

"If you hang on, I promise we'll be able to be friends again," Smith said in the video's final words.

As a result of the incident, Smith has been banned from the Academy Awards ceremony and all other Academy-related events for the next ten years.

"The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards," said AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson. "We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted."