Will Smith addresses Oscars slap in first late-night TV interview, talks ‘Emancipation’

Will Smith appeared on late-night television Monday for the first time since he infamously slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in March.

Speaking on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah about the on-stage altercation, which overshadowed his first Oscars win, Smith said he was in a daze upon returning to his seat. He said a frank conversation with his 9-year-old nephew brought a moment of clarity.

“He had stayed up late to see his Uncle Will, you know, and we are sitting in my kitchen and he is on my lap and he is holding the Oscar and he is just like, ‘Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?"” Smith recalled to Noah.

Smith jokingly said it was as if his nephew was trying to “Oprah me” in that moment.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air veteran said he blew up that night because “a rage that had been bottled up for a really long time” finally came out, but he said he understands the pain he caused by letting it out.

After immense backlash, Smith resigned from the Academy, which later banned him from all events for the next decade. He has apologized to Rock, the Academy, his family and his fans numerous times as well.

As for what he learned from all of this, Smith said it’s “that we just got to be nice to each other, man.”

Smith is promoting his new film, the slave drama Emancipation, ahead of its release in early December.

As reported, in a chat with Entertainment Weekly, Smith feared that his actions could hurt the reaction to the Antoine Fuqua-directed film — which ironically was once seen as an Oscar vehicle for the star.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.