Emancipation has a problem: the upcoming Apple TV+ docudrama stars Will Smith who was at the center of one of the year’s biggest Hollywood scandals, “The Slap.”
In an interview on The Daily Show, Smith said he regrets that his action at the 2022 Oscar ceremony is distracting from the work that others put into the film, especially director Antoine Fuqua.
Will Smith admits, ‘I lost it’
For anyone who was asleep under a rock earlier this year, Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscar-presentation ceremony in March, which got the actor banned from attending further Oscar ceremonies for 10 years.
In Monday’s interview with Trevor Noah, Smith didn’t try to defend his action. Quite the opposite. “I lost it,” said the actor. And he’s unhappy that the Academy is likely to snub Emancipation as punishment for his mistake.
“Emancipation is Antoine’s masterpiece. He has created an absolute masterpiece,” said Smith. “Bob Richardson the DP, and Ben Foster and just all the way down, it’s like 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, oh!, it’s like, that is killing me dead, you know.”
He went on to say, “I hope that their work will be honored and their work will not be tainted based on a horrific decision on my part.”
Smith talks Emancipation
The whole Daily Show interview wasn’t about The Slap. Smith also talked about his decision to make Emancipation.
It started with seeing the picture of Peter, the subject of the historical drama, in the Library of Congress. Peter’s story starts in Texas during the period after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation but before enslaved people had actually been freed. He escapes enslavement and flees across the swamp to Baton Rouge to join the Union army.
Smith said, “My daughter asked me, she’s like, ‘Daddy, do we really need another slave movie?’ And I was like, I said, ‘Baby, I promise you I wouldn’t make a slave movie. This is a freedom movie.’ ”
Watch the full interview for more comments on the docudrama and The Slap.
Emancipation premieres in theaters December 2, 2022 and in streaming on Apple TV+ December 9. In addition to Smith, it also stars Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma). The director is Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), and the film was written by William N. Collage. Cinematography is by Robert Richardson.