Will Smith appeared to become visibly emotional as he opened up — for one of the first times in public — about slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars.
In a lengthy interview with “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah on Monday, Smith recalled one particular moment of the “horrific night” when he struck Rock for mocking his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, onstage.
Smith remembered arriving home to his 9-year-old nephew, who’d stayed up late to watch the ceremony in which Smith later won the Best Actor award for “King Richard.”
“We’re sitting in my kitchen, he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar and he’s like, ‘Why’d you hit that man, Uncle Will?’” Smith recalled.
“Why you trying to Oprah me?” Smith joked to Noah as he dabbed his eyes.
Watch the interview here:
Earlier in the interview, Smith said his watery eyes were because he’d been on an airplane. Later, he said tears welled up for real as he talked about what led to the slap.
“I was like ‘aaargh.’ It was a mess,” Smith told Noah.
There were “many nuances and complexities” to his actions, he said, “but at the end of the day … I just lost it.”
“I guess what I would say is, you just never know what somebody’s going through,” he added, without specifics. “I was going through something that night, not that that justifies my behavior at all.”
Smith said he has learned “we’ve just got to be nice to each other” and to “forgive myself for being human.”
Noah suggested the “Emancipation” star shouldn’t be defined by or canceled because of what he did.
“That’s not who you are,” he told his longtime acquaintance.