After a terrific audience hacking comedian Chris Rock during a live broadcast of the Academy Awards, Will Smith returned to late-night television on Monday and sat down with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.
The interview comes eight months after the Oscars controversy and a series of online reports about the event. When Noah asked Govan about his experience after the incident, Smith said it was “a terrible night.
“There are a lot of nuances and complexities involved. But at the end of the day, I just – I lost it, you know?” the actor continued. “I was going through something that night, you know? That doesn’t justify my behavior at all. It was a lot of things. It was the little boy who watched his father beat his mother, you know? It all just went up in that moment. That’s not who I want to be.”
Smith, who won an Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard just minutes after the incident, he also told the host, “I guess what was really painful for me, I took my best and made it difficult for other people.” When he was talking about what he learned in the following months, he also said, “I understood the idea when they say that people hurt people.”
Noah, who is leaving the show at the end of next week, offered his own perspective on the controversy.
“I love Chris. I am friends with him. I love you, but this is fucked up. I know as black people, black people get together and go, ‘What was Will doing? What the hell happened?’ Noah said. “A lot of the black people were like, ‘He should go to jail.’ Like, you need to rest.”
Smith also shared a personal anecdote after that night.
“My nephew is nine. He is the sweetest little boy. We came home. He had stayed up late to see his uncle Will,” Smith recalled. “We’re sitting in my kitchen and he’s on my lap and he’s got his Oscar and he’s just like, ‘Why did you hit that guy , Uncle Will?’ Firmness. Why are you trying to Oprah me?”
The two also discussed Smith’s upcoming film, “Emancipation”, a film inspired by the story behind the 1893 “Whipped Peter” photos, including the infamous “scourged back” photo, which showed the back of a former slave named Gordon covered in scars from whips. In an earlier video interview with Fox 5Smith said he would “totally understand” if people aren’t ready to see it Salvationbut he hopes the “power of the film” will provide the headlines that have followed him all year.
Noah ended the interview by saying that the controversy “shouldn’t define Smith’s legacy. “I don’t think any of us in our lives deserve to be defined by our one fuck-up,” Noah told the actor.