Will Smith said he understands and respects people who are “not ready” to see his new film “Emancipation” after he slapped Oscar’s host Chris Rock during the awards show in March.
The 54-year-old actor discussed the movie’s upcoming release during a recent press tour, saying he hoped “that my actions don’t penalize my team,” Variety reported.
“I completely understand that, if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” Smith said. “My deepest concern is my team – [director Antoine Fuqua] has done what I think is the greatest work of his entire career.”
Will Smith responds to moviegoers who refuse to watch #Emancipation so soon after the Oscars slap: “I completely understand — if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready." https://t.co/r7EiVsRU8L
— Variety (@Variety) November 28, 2022
“I’m hoping that the material – the power of the film, the timeliness of the story – I’m hoping that the good that can be done would open people’s hearts at a minimum to see and recognize and support the incredible artists in and around this film,” Smith continued.
Fuqua’s “Emancipation” focuses on a runaway slave who “forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him,” according to the description on IMDb.
The “Men In Black” star drew headlines after the 94th Academy Awards in March when he walked on stage and slapped Rock in the face after the comedian cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Smith has since apologized several times.
In July, the actor issued an apology via a video on social media. Smith said he had reached out to Rock, but the message came back that the comedian was not ready to speak to him yet. Later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a 10-year ban against Smith.
“Emancipation” hits theaters on December 2 and will stream on Apple TV+ starting December 9.
Related: ‘Motherf***er Hit Me Over A Bulls*** Joke’: Chris Rock Unleashes On Will Smith Over Oscars Slap