Will Smith: ‘Oscar slap was repressed anger’

The actor: “I was going through a particular moment”

Will Smith explained that it was repressed anger (in American the actor literally used the term “bottled”) that led him to slap Chris Rock during the night of the Oscars last March.

Interviewed for the first time after the accident, a guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Smith spoke of that day as a coma of “a horrible night”. “I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all,” Smith said, though never clarifying what problem was afflicting him during those hours. Smith had taken the stage slapping the announcer who had just made a joke about the shaved head of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia. Smith had already said after the accident that it was not his wife who asked him to intervene.

“What I would say is, you never know what someone is going through,” she said, without elaborating on what she was referring to. The interview on the late night US television talk show was the first time Smith was interviewed about the slap. “I understand how shocking it was to people … I went out. That was anger that had been bottled up for a long time,” he said. “It was a horrible night, as you can imagine,” added the actor who was a guest on the program to promote the film ‘Emancipation’, which is due out next week and could therefore compete for next year’s Oscars.

Smith, who won the best actor Oscar in the night of the slap, said it “kills” him to think that his new film could be harmed by his actions. The 54-year-old has been banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, and he’s also resigned from the Academy, which organizes the ceremony. “My deepest concern is my team. For some people on the film team this is the most important job of their career so far and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team.”