Will Smith's Turbulent Year in Review: Repercussions for The Slap Heard 'Round the World

"I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be."

Will Smith started 2022 with numerous movies and projects in the works but that all changed in the blink of an eye. During the Oscars ceremony held in March, Will had an uncharacteristic outburst — and he ended up paying the price. After an on-stage altercation with Chris Rock, Will was not only forced out of the Academy but most of his projects were put on pause.

While Will has since apologized for his actions, the public has been slow to offer him forgiveness. It wasn’t until October that Will was given the opportunity to move forward with promoting a film already in the can, “Emancipation.” With the project premiering in December, only time will tell if the public will approve.

Here’s everything that went down with Will Smith this year…

Emancipation Producer Apologizes for Bringing Slave Photo That Inspired Film on Red Carpet

Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock During Oscars Ceremony

On March 27, 2022, Will attended the Oscars with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. During the show, comedian Chris Rock took to the stage to present an award and cracked several jokes before naming the nominees. In one joke, he referred to Jada as “G.I. Jane,” seemingly referencing her shaved head. Will came to Jada’s defense and walked on stage to shockingly slap Chris before returning to his seat and yelling for Chris to keep his wife’s name “out your f–king mouth.”

Chris eventually regained his composure and went on to present the award. Will was later awarded Best Actor for his role in “King Richard” and during his speech he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not Chris.

Will Smith Reportedly Refused to Leave The Oscars

In the days that followed the slapping incident, the Academy faced backlash for allowing Will to remain at the ceremony despite his violent outburst. But in an open letter, the Academy revealed that they had actually asked Will to leave but he refused. According to TMZ, President of the Academy David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson were “furious” following the altercation and had “heated conversations” backstage with Will’s reps. Will ultimately did not leave the event and the Academy noted that they “could have handled the situation differently.”

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event,” the Academy wrote.

Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sheree Zampino Pay Tribute to Son Trey on His 30th Birthday

Will Smith Apologizes to Chris Rock For Slapping Incident

Shortly after Will’s altercation with Chris, he took to Instagram to apologize for the incident. In a lengthy statement, Will called violence “poisonous and destructive” and called his actions “unacceptable and inexcusable.” He went on to explain that hearing a joke about Jada, who suffers from alopecia, had been too much for him to bear and he “reacted emotionally.”

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” Will wrote.

He went on to apologize to the Academy, producers and viewers of the show as well as his “King Richard” family.

The Academy Begins Formal Review Of Will Smith’s Actions

The Academy began a formal review of Will’s actions in the week following the ceremony. In a statement, they announced that their Board of Governors had begun disciplinary proceedings on Will for violating their Standards of Conduct. They explained that they gave Will 15 days notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response.

“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law,” the Academy said.

Will Smith Resigns From The Academy

On April 1, Will announced that he would be resigning from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In a letter to the Academy’s disciplinary committee, Will wrote that he would “fully accept any and all consequences for [his] conduct,” calling his actions “shocking, painful, and inexcusable.”

“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken,” Will said.

He added that he was “committed to doing the work” to ensure that he will “never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

Chris Rock’s Mom Condemns Will Smith For Slapping Her Son

While Chris did not immediately make a statement about the incident, his mother Rose Rock made her displeasure with Will obvious during an interview in late April.

“When he slapped Chris, he slapped all of us. He really slapped me, because when you hurt my child, you hurt me,” Rose said. “You reacted to your wife giving you the side-eye, and you went and made her day because she was mulled over laughing when it happened.”

Will Smith Formally Apologizes In YouTube Video

In July, Will made his return to social media by speaking on camera for the first time since slapping Chris at the Oscars. In a YouTube video, Will appeared to hold back tears as he apologized to Chris, calling his behavior “unacceptable.” He added that he was there “whenever” Chris was ready to talk, but noted that he had already reached out and Chris was not ready.

Will also addressed rumors that he had gone on stage because Jada asked him to but admitted that he did it on his own accord because he felt the joke was insulting and disrespectful. He also made it clear that he and Chris had “history,” although he didn’t specify what had previously happened.

“I am human and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s–t…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. And, you know, if you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again,” Will said.

Will Smith and Sheree Zampino's Son Trey 'Didn't Feel Loved' By His Mother Growing Up

Will Smith Shares Screening Of First Project Since Oscars Altercation

In October, Will hosted a screening of “Emancipation,” a film that had previously been put on pause by Apple following his Oscars altercation. He showed the movie at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 51st annual Legislative Conference, which was hosted by the NAACP. At the time, there was no set release date for the film, but it reportedly got a good reaction from the crowd.

Will Smith Gives First Interview Since Oscars Slap On “The Daily Show”

In November, Will made his first television appearance since the Oscars incident in March. Will spoke with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show,” admitting that while there were many “many nuances and complexities” leading up to the slap, he had simply just “lost it.”

“It was a lot of things,” he said of his motivations for his actions. “It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother. All of that bubbled up in that moment…You know, just, that’s not who I want to be…I was gone. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.”

In reflecting on what he learned from the incident, Will said, “I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all. You’re asking, what did I learn? It’s that we’ve just gotta be nice to each other, man. It’s hard. I guess the thing that was most painful for me is, I took my hard and made it hard for other people. I understood the idea of when they say hurt people hurt people.”

Will Smith Sends Message To Fans Hesitant To See “Emancipation” Because of Oscars Slap

Ahead of the release of “Emancipation,” Will delivered a message to fans who may not be ready to see him on the big screen again. In an interview, Will explained that he completely understood that people may not want to see him, but hoped that it wouldn’t affect the rest of the film’s cast and crew.

“I completely understand that. If someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready. My deepest concern is my team. [Director Antoine Fuqua] I think has done what I think is his greatest work of his entire career,” Will said.

He continued, “My deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team. At this point, that’s what I’m working for, that’s what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping that the material, the power of the film, the timeliness of the story, I’m hoping that the good that can be done would open people’s hearts at a minimum to see and recognize and support the incredible artists in and around this film.”

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