Will Smith says he “absolutely” respects if audiences aren’t ready to see him in his upcoming film emancipationBut his “deep hope” is that his actions during the 2022 Academy Awards “will not penalize my team.”
In a new interview with the Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., the actor discussed his feelings about audiences’ reluctance to watch him on screen after slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Dolby Theater at this year’s Oscars.
“I totally understand if someone isn’t ready. I totally respect that and allow them to have their place not ready. Smith told Fox 5.
While he acknowledged people’s mixed feelings about seeing him again, Smith added that his “deep concern is my team” and will be able to celebrate the film’s creative achievements outside of their actions in March. Smith specifically singled out the work of director Antoine Fuqua, cinematographer Robert Richardson, production designer Naomi Shohan, costume designer Francine Jamieson-Tanchak, and co-star Charmaine Bingwa, calling the actor’s Apple Originals film Fuqua’s “great work”. His entire career.”
“The people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions will not penalize my team,” he said. “So at this point, I’m working on that. That’s what I’m hoping for. I hope that the material, the power of the film, the timeliness of the story — the good that can be done — at least opens people’s hearts to see and recognize and support incredible artists. Around this film.”
During a special screening of the film hosted by Apple and the NAACP in early October, Smith shared that the decision to make the film based on the true story of “Whipped Peter” was based on a different side of black identity and history. During the dark period of mass American slavery.
“I never wanted to show us that. And then this film came along. And it’s not a film about slavery. It’s a film about freedom. It’s a film about resilience. It’s a film about faith,” he said. Cameras had just been created, and Peter’s image went around the world. It’s a cry against slavery, and it’s a story that exploded and blossomed in my heart and I want to deliver it to you in a way that only Antoine Fuqua can deliver.
Fuqua shared a similar sentiment regarding Smith’s recent comments in a November interview and reiterated what he had previously said. The Hollywood Reporter, that he wants “the audience to see the truth and be inspired by it.” The director then explained his own reason for continuing to release the film despite the fallout.
“My conversation is always, ‘Isn’t 400 years of slavery, brutality, more important than one bad moment?’ We were in Hollywood, and there were some nasty things that happened and we saw a lot of people getting awards for doing some nasty things,” he explained. “So, I think Apple considered all of those things and we discussed a lot of those things. Then, the people in charge of distribution and money at Apple made the decision — and I’m grateful. I am truly grateful. “
He said that those involved with the film never “discussed the film”. not Smith is coming out after slapping Rock, but Apple was “very careful” when judging the incident and the comments about it. Fuqua ultimately said what happened between the two men was “an unfortunate incident, and I hope we can move on and get past it.”