Actor Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock and pledged to make amends in a video posted Friday. File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo
July 29 (UPI) -- Will Smith said in a YouTube video Friday that he is "trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself" for slapping comedian Chris Rock on live television during the Academy Awards in March.
"I'm human, and I made a mistake, and I'm trying not to think of myself as a piece of [expletive]," Smith said in the video.
"I've reached out to Chris [Rock], and the message that came back is that he's not ready to talk, and when he is, he'll reach out," Smith added.
"I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you, my behavior was unacceptable, and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk."
The confrontation on the Oscars stage occurred after Rock made a joke poking fun at Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
"Jada, G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," Rock said, a reference to her short hair -- which Jada Pinkett Smith said she had been shaving since 2021 due to hair loss from alopecia.
Will Smith, who was seated in the front row of the theater, walked up onstage, slapped Rock across the face and sat back down.
He then proceeded to curse at Rock multiple times, telling him to "keep my wife's name out your [expletive] mouth!"
The incident was seen live on television, and seemed to shock the rest of the audience within the theater, who were at first unsure if the slap was real or part of a planned skit.
Following public backlash, Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences days later.
He was later banned from attending the Academy Awards for the next 10 years.
The video is the first public comment Smith has made since the incident, except for a short Instagram post the day after.
He reiterated that he has taken the time since then to reflect on his actions.
"I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment," Will Smith said. "I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment."
"There is no part of me that thinks that's the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults."
Will Smith also apologized to Rock's mother, who said during an interview in April that he "really slapped all of us."
"That was one of the things about that moment, I just didn't realize, I wasn't thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment," Will Smith said. "I want to apologize to Chris' mother, I want to apologize to Chris' family."
Will Smith added that he had once had a great relationship with Chris Rock's brother, Tony Rock, but said that it was likely "irreparable."
The actor also apologized to people that he said used to look up to him prior to the incident.
"Disappointing people is my central trauma, I hate when I let people down," he said. "So I would say to those people, 'I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world.'"