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Will Smith makes emotional apology to Chris Rock in new video: ‘This is probably irreparable’ 

Will Smith is addressing the Oscars slap controversy in his first on-camera apology since the incident. 

The actor, who walked away with an Oscar for best actor the same night he slapped Chris Rock on the awards stage, released a YouTube video titled “It’s Been A Minute” Friday addressing some of the common questions people asked after the incident, including why he didn’t apologize to Rock during his acceptance speech. 

“I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is he will reach out,” said. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you.” 

During Oscar night on March 27, Rock was preparing to present the award for best documentary feature. During his intro, the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, saying that he couldn’t wait to see her star in “G.I. Jane 2,” referencing her shaved head. Smith responded by approaching the stage and slapping Rock.

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Calif., on March 27.Brian Snyder / Reuters

On Friday, Smith’s apology also extended to Rock’s mother and his brother, comedian Tony Rock. 

The day after the Academy Awards, Smith apologized to Rock and the Academy in an Instagram post on March 28. 

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith wrote at the time. “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.”

In Friday’s video Smith denounced his “irreparable” actions. 

“I can say to all of you there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There’s no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults.” 

The “King Richard” actor’s apology continued with an apology to his fellow nominees, specifically Questlove, who won his first Oscar for his “Summer of Soul” documentary.  His winning moment was marred by the confusion that filled the room after Smith hit Rock. 

“I can still see Questlove’s eyes. It happened on Questlove’s award. It’s like ‘I’m sorry’ really isn’t sufficient,” Smith said in the video. 

Questlove didn’t directly address the situation the night of the Oscars, but he did quip about it when presenting at the Grammy Awards the next week, asking that others stand “500 feet away from me” while he presented the award for song of the year. 

Smith continued his apology, detailing the mental toll the March incident has had on him. 

“Disappointing people is my central trauma. I hate when I let people down. So it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know that I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me,” Smith said. 

“The work I’m trying to do is — I am deeply remorseful — and I’m trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. Right? I’m human, and I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of (expletive).”

Nearly two weeks after the Oscars and a week after Smith formally resigned from the Academy after his actions, the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banned Smith from Academy events, including the Oscars, for 10 years. 

“I accept and respect the academy’s decision,” Smith said in a statement to USA TODAY provided by his representative Meredith O’Sullivan at the time. 

Smith continued on Friday: “I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world. If you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again,” he concluded the video. 

By Elise Brisco

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