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Will Smith explains how he talked to his nephew, 9, about Oscars slap

The actor said the slap was the result of “a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.”
/ Source: TODAY

Will Smith said his infamous slap at the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony was the result of "a rage that had been bottled for a really long time."

In an interview on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," the actor opened up about why he slapped Chris Rock, and how, after the incident, his 9-year-old nephew's reaction broke his heart.

"We came home, and he had stayed up late to see his Uncle Will," Smith said. "We’re sitting in my kitchen, and he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar. And he’s just like, 'Why did you hit that man Uncle Will?'"

"D--- it!" Smith recalled of his reaction, wiping away tears. "Why are you trying to Oprah me?"

Smith gave more details from the ceremony, which Noah described as what he thought was "one of the best days of your life and one of the worst days" of Smith's life.

"That was a horrific night, as you can imagine," Smith said. "You know, there’s many nuances and, and complexities to it, but at the end of the day, I just lost it."

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Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

"It was a lot of things," he continued. "It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know, all of that just bubbled up ... that’s not who I want to be."

Smith, who is promoting the film "Emancipation" — his first movie since the troubling incident — said he is afraid the team behind the movie may get denied awards consideration because of his actions.

"These top artists in the world have done some of the best work of their career. And the idea that they might be denied because of me is like..." Smith trails off, before groaning and hitting his head against the desk.

"That is killing me dead," he added.

Smith slapped Rock after the comedian was on stage at the March 27 Oscars ceremony.

Rock cracked a joke about Smith's wife's bald head while presenting an award. Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.

Will Smith, Chris Rock
Will Smith hitting Chris Rock as he spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards.Brian Snyder / Reuters

Smith issued several apologies in the days and weeks following the incident, and resigned from the from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on April 1.

A week later, the Academy banned Smith from all of the organization's events for 10 years. His resignation and ban do not prevent him from being nominated for or winning future awards.

Rock has performed stand-up shows since the slap, and addressed the controversy during a performance in July.

"Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock said, later adding, "I’m not a victim. Yeah, that s--- hurt ... But I shook that s--- off and went to work the next day. I don’t go to the hospital for a paper cut."