Will Smith took another step back into the spotlight on Monday night by appearing for an interview on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” following a slew of online remarks and low-key public appearances over the previous months. Smith’s discussion with the late-night host about his Oscars fiasco, in which he smacked Chris Rock onstage while the comic was introducing the category of best documentary feature, naturally delved into the promotion of his new historical drama “Emancipation.”
When asked why he hadn’t been in the news, Will Smith responded, “I have been away,” to laughter from the audience. “What have you guys been up to?
Will Smith makes his first late-night appearance since the Oscars slap on “The Daily Show”:
You can imagine what a horrible night that was. There are numerous subtleties and nuances to it. However, towards the end of the day, I simply — lost it. Smith kept going. “You know, I was going through something that night. It was a lot of things, though none of them at all excuses my behavior. It was the young child who saw his father physically abuse his mother, you know? All of that just came to the surface at that time. I do not want to be that person.
Noah intervened, expressing his own viewpoint on the matter and recalling the conversations he had with peers about the subject.
“I Love Chris. I am close to him. I care about you, but this is wrong. I am aware that when Black people gather, they ask, “What was Will doing? Why the hell did that happen? Many Black people thought that he ought to go to prison. Smith laughed as Noah remarked, “Like, you need to calm yourself. Some individuals overreacted, which caused others to underreact.
On Oscars night, when he was already having to cope with the fallout from his outburst in his personal life, Smith related a tale from the aftermath.
“I departed. My nephew is nine years old. That was a wrath that had been suppressed for a very long period, Smith added. He is the most adorable young man. We returned home. He had stayed up late to visit his uncle Will, and now that we are sitting in my kitchen, he sits on my lap, holding the Oscar, and he asks me, “Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?” He had stayed up late to see his uncle Will. Oh, dear. What makes you think you can Oprah me?
Smith also spoke about “Emancipation” and shared the choices he made that resulted in the project. Based on actual events, the movie stars Will Smith as a fugitive slave who gains notoriety as “Whipped Peter” after pictures of the severe brutality of slavery on his back went viral.
“Seeing that photograph for the first time was one of the things that really sparked my interest in investigating this because you see the image but don’t know who he is. You are unaware of the plot, Smith remarked. “American slavery was among the cruelest periods in human history… Understanding the extent of human wickedness is difficult. Do we really need yet another slave movie, my daughter questioned me. I assured her, “Baby, I swear I won’t make a slave movie.” This is a film about freedom.
Director Antoine Fuqua explained why “Emancipation” was released eight months after the Smith Oscars controversy in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, saying “the film to me is bigger than that moment.”
Fuqua remarked that “400 years of slavery is more than one moment.” “My goal is that people would view it that way, watch the film, and be swept away by Will’s fantastic performance and all the really hard work that the entire crew accomplished,” the actor said.