Will Smith opens up to Trevor Noah about Oscars slap: ‘I was going through something that night’

Smith is currently promoting "Emancipation," his new film and first since his Oscar-winning performance in "King Richard."

In support of his pending film “Emancipation,” Will Smith sat down Monday night with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show,” where he broke down his new movie while also shedding light on where he is eight months after his infamous onstage moment at the 94th Academy Awards.

As theGrio previously reported, Smith has begun the promotional rollout for Antoine Fuqua’s “Emancipation,” in which he portrays a slave escaping captivity. The role is expected to garner the same praise, or more, that he got for his acclaimed turn in “King Richard.” The former Fresh Prince won a Best Actor prize at the Academy Awards in late March — and that was also the night Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage on live television after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Smith has since received major backlash from fans and Hollywood at large, was stripped of his Academy membership and released an official apology. Still, compared to years past, he has maintained an extremely low profile.

Actor Will Smith (left) opens up to host Trevor Noah (right) on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” an episode that aired Monday night. (Photo: Matt Wilson/Comedy Central)

Recalling the encounter on March 27 — which Noah called “one of the best” and “worst” days of Smith’s life — the “King Richard” star said, “That was a horrific night, as you can imagine. There’s many nuances and complexities to it, but at the end of the day I just … I lost it.”

He went on to explain that you “never know what someone is going through” in life.

“I was going through something that night,” he continued. “Not that that justifies my behavior at all; you’re asking, ‘What did I learn,’ and it’s that we just gotta be nice to each other, man.”

“I guess the thing that was most painful for me,” Smith added, “is I took my heart and made it hard for other people. I understood the idea when they say hurt people hurt people.”

Throughout the layered conversation, Noah offered his own perspective on the matter as someone who is friends with both Smith and Rock, noting everyone “can make a mistake” and contending that despite what people may think, that moment was not “the real” Smith.

“I was gone, dude,” Smith maintained. “That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.”

He went on to share how his 9-year-old nephew, who watched the Oscars ceremony that night, asked him later why he “hit that man.”

“I was like, it was a mess,” Smith told Noah. “I don’t want to go too far into it to give people more to misunderstand.”

Watch the full interview — where Smith breaks down the moment, discusses his new film and more — below:

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