Celebrities

Will Smith opens up about ‘bottled rage’ that fuelled his Oscars slap

Will Smith talks Oscar slap, new move 'Emancipation' coming out in December

Will Smith has finally shed some light on what prompted him to fly off the handle and slap Chris Rock, in what was arguably the most memorable TV moment of the year.

The Hollywood superstar broke down in tears during his first talk-show interview since the infamous Oscars-night altercation, telling The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah he’d been fuelled by “bottled rage” when he stormed onto the stage and attacked the ceremony’s host.

Smith, 54, stressed that he wasn’t trying to justify his aggressive behaviour but had been “going through something that night.”

“'There’s many nuances and complexities to it. But at the end of the day, I just… I lost it, you know?” he told Noah.

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He added: “It was a lot of things – it was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know? All of that just bubbled up in that moment. That is not who I want to be.

“I was gone. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.”

The Fresh Prince icon grew emotional when he recalled how his nine-year-old nephew Dom – who is “the sweetest little boy” – confronted him upon his return from the ill-fated Academy Awards show.

“He had stayed up late to see his uncle Will 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 later apologised to Rock and the Academy for the incident, which occurred after the comedian poked fun about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

The Pursuit of Happiness star is currently doing the rounds to promote his new film Emancipation, which will be released next week and is therefore eligible for next year’s Oscars.

In a separate interview with Fox5, the 54-year-old revealed that he’d been losing sleep over the impact his behaviour could have on the movie’s reception.

“The people on this team have done some of the best work their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalise my team,” he said.

Smith added that he hoped that “the material power of the film” as well as “the timeliness of the story” would “open people’s hearts” and allow the hard work done on the film to be appreciated.

Emancipation is based on the true story of the enslaved man “Whipped Peter” who escaped from a Louisiana plantation in the 1860s after he was nearly whipped to death.

It marks the actor’s first big-screen project since the notorious slap, which saw him banned from attending any Academy events or programmes for 10 years.

Asked what he would say to those who thought it was “too soon” for him to be making a comeback, he replied: “You know, I completely understand that if you know someone is not ready.

“I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready.”

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