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Will Smith calls Oscars ‘horrific night’ in first interview

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Will Smith tearfully recalled the “horrific night” he slapped Chris Rock across the face at the 2022 Oscars.

The “King Richard” star, 54, sat down for his first interview on late-night television since the headline-making incident in March, admitting he had “rage” bottled up for a long time.

“That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. You know, there’s many nuances & complexities to it,” he told Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” Monday.

“But at the end of the day, I just, I lost it, you know? And I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody’s going through. In the audience right now, you are sitting next to strangers, & somebody’s mother died last week, somebody’s child is sick, somebody just lost their job, somebody just found out their spouse cheated,” Smith continued.

“You just don’t know what is going on with people. And I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all.”

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
Will Smith sat down for his first major TV interview since he slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” alum shared that Enrage “bubbled up” inside of him when Rock, 57, made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. (The actress suffers from alopecia.)

“It was a lot of things. It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother. All of that just bubbled up in that moment,” Smith said.

“I was gone. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time. … That is not who I want to be.”

The Academy Award winner also broke down when he remembered his 9-year-old nephew asking about the incident.

“He is the sweetest little boy. … We came home, & it’s like, he had stayed up late to see his uncle Will, & we are sitting in my kitchen, & he is on my lap, & he is holding the Oscar, & he is just like, ‘Why did you hit that man, uncle Will?’” he shared.

Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith on a red carpet.
Smith said he felt “rage” after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
Getty Images

When Noah, 38, asked Smith what he had learned from the controversial moment, the “Rotten Boys” star replied, “Hurt people hurt people.”

“You are asking what did I learn, & it is that we just got to be nice to each other, man,” he said.

“I guess the thing that was most painful for me is, I took my hard & made it hard for other people.”

Chris Rock & Will Smith laughing together at an awards show.
Smith later apologized to Rock via social media.
FilmMagic, Inc

Smith, who failed to apologize to Rock at the awards show but did issue a mea culpa in a social media video in July, said he also had to forgive himself “for being human.”

“And trust me, there is nobody that hates the fact that I’m human more than me,” he added.

In the wake of the slap heard ’round the world, Smith resigned from the Academy. The organization also banned the “Emancipation” star from attending its events for 10 years.

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