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Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock on Instagram, breaks silence since Oscars slap

Will Smith at the 2022 Academy Awards after winning the best actor Oscar for his role in "King Richard."Neilson Barnard/Photographer: Neilson Barnard/Ge

Will Smith has broken his silence since slapping Chris Rock across the face at the Oscars.

The “King Richard” star released a video on Instagram on Friday apologizing to Rock for hitting him onstage during the 2022 Oscars ceremony after the comedian made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“It’s been a minute,” Will Smith began in the video. He started with a sigh and got right to the point.

“Why didn’t you apologize to Chris in your acceptance speech,” Smith asked, as if reading the question, before responding: “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy.”

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Smith said that he has reached out to Rock, and “it came back that he’s not ready to talk. And when he is, he will reach out.”

Smith then pointed to the camera and offered a direct apology.

“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 said, and then extended his apology to Rock’s mother and brother Tony, as well as the rest of Rock’s family.

“I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment,” Smith said.

The actor added that he’s spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and complexities of what happened in that moment.

“I’m not going to try and unpack all of that right now, but what I can say to you all is there’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect to insults,” Smith said.

Smith then posed another question: “After Jada rolled her eyes, did she tell you to do something?”

“No,” Smith said. “I made a choice on my own from my own experiences from history with Chris, and Jada had nothing to do with it.”

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In the video, Smith apologized to Jada, his kids, and family “for the heat that I brought on all of us,” as well as to his fellow Oscar nominees. “This is a community. It’s like, I won because you voted for me and it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment.”

Smith specifically apologized to QuestLove, who was awarded best documentary feature for “Summer of Soul” when the slap happened.

“It’s like, ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient,” a remorseful Smith said.

He then asked one more rhetorical question: What would you say to the people who looked up to you before the slap? Or people who expressed you let them down?

“Disappointing people is my central trauma,” Smith said. “I hate when I let people down. So it hurts. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me.”

Smith said he feels deeply remorseful, but part of “the work” he’s trying to do revolves around being remorseful but not ashamed.

“I’m trying to not think of myself as a piece of [expletive],” Smith said. “So I would say to those people, I know it was confusing and I know it was shock, 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.”

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Watch the full apology:


Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.