On Monday (November 28), Smith sat down with host Trevor Noah for an interview on The Daily Show ahead of the premiere of Emancipation, the first film to be released starring the actor since the Oscars slap, per NBC News.
“I have been away,” Smith said on the late-night talk show, joking about his absence from the public eye. “What have y’all been doing?”
The Emancipation star went on to describe his frame of mind leading to the controversial moment.
“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, you know?” Smith said. “I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behavior at all… It was a lot of things. It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know? All of that just bubbled up in that moment. That is not who I want to be.”
During Monday night's show, Noah recalled the discussions he had with his peers following the slap.
“I love Chris. I’m friends with him. I love you, but this is f----d up… I know that as Black people, Black people get together and go, ‘What was Will doing? What the hell happened?’ A lot of Black people were like, ‘He should go to jail.’ Like, you need to relax yourself,” Noah said. “Some people were overreacting, which made some people underreact.”
Smith then got candid about the "bottled" rage he was holding on to before he struck Rock.
“I was gone. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time,” Smith said, “My nephew is nine. He is the sweetest little boy. We came home. He had stayed up late to see his uncle Will and we are sitting in my kitchen and he is on my lap and he is holding the Oscar and he is just like, ‘Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?’ Damn it. Why are you trying to Oprah me?”
“American slavery was one of the most brutal aspects of human history… It is hard to understand the level of human cruelty," Smith said on The Daily Show. "My daughter asked me, ‘Daddy, do we really need another slave movie?’ I said, ‘Baby, I promise you, I wouldn’t make a slave movie. This is a freedom movie.’”
The film will debut in theaters this Friday (December 2) and will be available to stream on December 9 on Apple TV+.