Actor Will Smith said he would “completely understand” if moviegoers aren’t “ready” to see his new film, “Emancipation,” after he punched comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars earlier this year.
“Emancipation” is Smith’s first new film to be released since he punched Rock in the face in March. Smith had hit Rock in response to a joke the comedian made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
Since the incident, Smith has apologized several times and resigned as a member of the Academy.
The actor said in a recent interview with FOX 5 DC reporter Kevin McCarthy that he would understand if people aren’t ready to see his movie because of his slap at the Oscars.
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“I completely understand that if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them to have their space not ready,” Smith told McCarthy. “My deepest concern is my team… [director Antoine Fuqua] He’s done what I think is the best work of his entire career.”
He explained that his team did “one of the best jobs of his entire career” and that his “most hope is that my actions do not penalize my team.”
“I hope that the material, the power of the film, the timeliness of the story, I hope that the good that can be done will at least open people’s hearts to see and recognize and support the incredible artists and around this film,” Smith said.
In “Emancipation,” Smith plays a slave named Peter who runs away from a plantation in Louisiana.
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Smith, who won the best actor Oscar for “King Richard” shortly after slapping Rock, is in contention for another nomination for his role in “Emancipation.” If the actor receives a nomination, he will not be able to attend the ceremony.