Will Smith is opening up about that infamous Oscars slap.
During an appearance on The Daily Show to promote his upcoming film Emancipation, an emotional Smith addressed the incident directly. "That was a horrific night, as you can imagine," said the Oscar winner. "...At the end of the day, I just lost it, you know... You just never know what somebody's going through... I was going through something that night... Not that that justifies my behavior at all."
After stressing the need for people to be kind to one another, Smith explained that he understands now that "hurt people hurt people." Noah then called the way the discourse surrounding the situation has escalated "relentlessly sh*tty", prompting Smith to share some of his own childhood trauma. "That's not who I want to be," he said, referencing the domestic abuse he witnessed growing up.
"I think everybody can make a mistake," said Noah. "Now I'm crying for real," replied Smith, wiping away tears. "I understand how shocking that was for people, man. On that stage... I was gone, dude. I was gone... That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time... I understand the pain, you know."
Smith then choked up as he told a story about his young nephew staying up to watch the Oscars and questioning why he'd "hit that man". "Why you trying to Oprah me?" the actor jested to Noah, breaking out his tissues again.
"The one thing that's killing me," Smith admitted, turning the conversation back to Emancipation and his worry that his actions might ruin the film's shot at success. "...I hope that their work will be honored and their work will not be tainted based on a horrific decision on my part."
The Daily Show airs weeknights at 11pm ET/PT on Comedy Central and is available to stream next-day on Paramount+.
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Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines and harboring dad-aged celebrity crushes. She was previously a reporter/producer at Decider and is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.