Actor Will Smith said he would “completely understand” if movie watchers are not “ready” to see his new film, “Emancipation,” after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars earlier this year.
“Emancipation” is the first new Smith movie to be released since he slapped Rock in the face in March. Smith had slapped Rock in response to a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
Since the incident, Smith has apologized multiple times and resigned as a member of the Academy.
The actor said in a recent interview with FOX 5 DC reporter Kevin McCarthy that he would understand if people are not ready to view his film because of his slap at the Oscars.
“I completely understand that, if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” Smith told McCarthy. “My deepest concern is my team – [director Antoine Fuqua] has done what I think is the greatest work of his entire career.”
He explained that his team has done “some of the best work of their entire careers” and that his “deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team.”
“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 said.
In “Emancipation,” Smith plays a slave named Peter who flees a plantation in Louisiana.
Smith, who won the Best Actor Oscar for “King Richard” shortly after slapping Rock, is in contention for another nomination for his role in “Emancipation.” If the actor does receive a nomination, he will not be able to attend the ceremony.