Will Smith sat down for a 20-minute interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show last night, a little more than a week before Noah’s last show. I believe this was Smith’s first extended interview since The Slap, and it’s a good conversation. Trevor Noah digs deep. Smith is promoting his Apple TV+ film, Emancipation, but I hope that Smith doesn’t spend the next three weeks prostrating himself before the likes of Ryan and Kelly or Jimmy Fallon or a bunch of red-carpet journalists. Let this be it.
Personally, I’ve heard enough. He’s apologized. He speaks candidly and honestly here. “And I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody is going through,” Smith told Noah. “I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all … “And it’s like I understood the idea where they say hurt people hurt people.”
“That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time,” Smith said.
It was a bad moment, and he admits he “lost it.” But he didn’t kill anyone with his car (Matthew Broderick); he didn’t sell drugs (Tim Allen); and he didn’t wake up in a stranger’s bed (Robert Downey, Jr.). I don’t know what the pop-culture sentence is for slapping a comic on stage during a live telecast of the Oscars, but I will say this much: Johnny Depp was forgiven for more than that before he even met Amber Heard. Smith seems legitimately contrite. I have no interest in watching the man beg for his career back, not when people like Ezra Miller do a lot worse and suffer fewer consequences. I’m ready to move on, and judge Will Smith not for his actions at the Oscars but for his performance in Emancipation.