Will Smith has said he “understands” if people aren’t ready to support his new film Emancipation following his actions at the Oscars.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Emancipation stars Smith as an enslaved man named Peter who escapes from a Louisiana plantation. It marks the actor’s first film since he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Speaking to journalist Kevin McCarthy, Smith was asked what he would say to someone who does not feel “ready” to see the film after the Oscars incident.
“I completely understand. If someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” Smith replied. “My deepest concern is my team – Antoine has done what I think is the greatest work of his entire career.”
He added: “The people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalise my team.
“At this point, that’s what I’m working for. 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 recognise and support the incredible artists in and around this film.”
Smith won his first Best Actor Oscar for King Richard shortly after he struck the comedian at the event. Following a number of apologies, Smith resigned from the Academy and was later banned from attending all Academy events for 10 years.
Back in July, Smith posted an apology video to address questions surrounding the incident. “I’ve reached out to Chris [Rock] and the message that came back is he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out,” he said in the video.
He added: “I will say to you, Chris. I apologise to you. My behaviour was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
Emancipation is set to be released on Apple TV+ on December 9.