While the Academy Awards took place back in March, the discourse surrounding Hollywood’s biggest night hasn’t slowed down much. This is due to Will Smith breaking the internet by slapping Chris Rock live on television, with both the celebs and the public still processing that event. The conversation surrounding The Slap has picked up recently, thanks to the upcoming release of Smith’s new drama Emancipation. And now the King Richard actor has opened up about what really happened the night of the Oscars Slap, saying “I’ve always wanted to be Superman.”
The upcoming release of Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation will mark Will Smith’s first new movie since The Slap. The highly anticipated drama also has the potential to win big during Awards Season, which no doubt feels like a full circle moment for the 54 year-old actor/producer. Smith recently appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, where he spoke candidly about the infamous incident at the Oscars with Chris Rock. He opened up about where his head was at the time, saying:
Some points were made. While being invited to the Academy Awards as a Best Actor nominee seems like a dream for fans, the reality of it is quite different for A-listers like Will Smith who have attended multiple times. And despite the honor he was receiving for his work on King Richard, he admits that he was having some private struggles, which seemingly resulted in his violent outburst against Chris Rock.
Will Smith’s comments to Trevor Noah help to humanize the A-lister, whose status as a celebrity might make him otherwise unapproachable for the public. But despite his wild success and decades as a movie star, he’s got issues just like you and me. And that includes trauma, that was seemingly triggered during last year’s Oscars. He explained how his past factored into his decision to walk on stage and confront Chris Rock, saying:
The violence erupted at last year’s Oscars after Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance while presenting. He was seemingly unaware of her public battle with alopecia, and the crack about her hair triggered a strong reaction from husband Will Smith. After slapping Rock, he returned to his seat and screamed at the comic to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth (plus a few expletives in there for good measure).
In the months since the event he dropped out of the Academy, was banned from the event for a decade, and largely stepped out of the public eye. But he’s since returned, partly to promote the upcoming release of Emancipation. Later in his conversation with Trevor Noah, he equated his actions with a need to be a hero like Superman. As he put it,
Part of what made The Slap such a viral event is that the moment of violence came from such a universally beloved figure like Will Smith. But in the end all celebrities are just humans, and they’re capable of making mistakes. Smith’s biggest misstep just happened to be on national television, and at a prestigious event full of his peers.
It should be interesting to see how Emancipation ultimately performs, and if moviegoers will be able to separate Will Smith and his performance from The Slap. As previously mentioned, this is his first post-Oscars movie release. Although he seems to think the powerful work done on the movie will overpower any naysayers experiencing cognitive dissonance.
Emancipation will hit select theaters on December 2nd, before being released on AppleTV+ on December 9th. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year. We’ll just have to see if Smith’s other future projects see the light of day.