The lesson of the Oscars slap, according to Will Smith? "Hurt people hurt people."
The actor on Monday made his first late-night appearance since he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, which led him to be banned from the ceremony for 10 years. On The Daily Show, Smith acknowledged he "lost it" on that "horrific night," and the "little boy that watched his father beat up his mother" came out.
"I was gone," he said. "That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time."
Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock at the Oscars over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, having a bald head. Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with alopecia. Smith, who subsequently won the Oscar for Best Actor, apologized the next day for his "inexcusable" behavior.
Speaking with Trevor Noah, Smith said he was "going through something that night," which he did not discuss in detail. But he urged viewers to remember that "you just never know what somebody's going through," adding that the incident was an example of how "hurt people hurt people." The King Richard star also choked up recalling his nephew asking him after the ceremony, "Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?"
Noah defended Smith throughout the interview, arguing his behavior on the night of the Oscars is "not who you are" and that "everybody can make a mistake," prompting cheers from the audience.
Smith is currently promoting his new movie Emancipation, and though he is banned from attending the Oscars for a decade, he can still be nominated for Best Actor in 2023 and even win. That may be unlikely, but Smith said on The Daily Show the idea that everyone else who worked on the movie might have their hard work "tainted" because of his actions is "killing me dead."