Will Smith Receives Support From An Unlikely Source After Public Apology

That's a good sign.

By Michileen Martin | Published

Will Smith’s First Movie Following The Oscar Slap Will Be On Streaming This Winter

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At the end of July, Will Smith finally broke a long, awkward public silence ever since the aftermath of the 2022 Oscars, when he slapped Chris Rock on stage. The star had apologies for everyone involved; including Rock, Rock’s family, his own family, and the creatives whose accomplishments were overshadowed by the unexpected controversy. It’s still not clear if Smith’s apology was enough for Rock or the entertainment industry, but this week the Men in Black star is getting support from one unexpected corner of Hollywood — an Oscars producer.

At the premiere of Idris Elba’s new survival thriller Beast in New York City, ET spoke to one of the film’s producers, Will Packer, who also produced this year’s Oscars ceremony. ET asked Packer for his thoughts on the roughly 6-minute apology video Will Smith released on July 29, and he responded, “I love the fact that he’s being so transparent about his process. Clearly he is going through his own personal rehabilitation.” Packer added, “I’m pulling for him. I’m pulling for him to continue his own process, but I think this is for him. He needs to do it… I’m wishing you the best, brother.”

ET notes that Packer kept his lips sealed in regards to whether or not he’s spoken personally to either Will Smith or Chris Rock since the infamous slap, but he did express love and support for Rock as well. His comments also spoke to the overshadowing Smith mentioned in his apology video. “People always talk about that [slap], but I hope that over time people will realize it was an energetic, diverse, history-making Oscars ceremony,” Packer said. “A lot of energy went into it. I’m very prideful of it.”

The apology video Will Smith released on July 29 was, in part, a surprise. Most were expecting some kind of public statement, though it was largely predicted Smith would ask Oprah Winfrey or another well respected interviewer to give him an audience for the apology. Instead he released the video online; on Instagram it was Smith’s first post since March 28 — the day after the Oscars — when he apologized to Chris Rock in writing. You can watch the video below.

Among other things, Will Smith puts the responsibility for what happened on Oscars night squarely on his shoulders, taking care to address the speculation that he slapped Chris Rock because he felt his wife Jada Pinkett Smith was displeased he had laughed at a joke about her hair. “I made a choice on my own, from my own experience, and my history with Chris,” Smith insisted. “Jada had nothing to do with it.” He also said he had reached out to Chris Rock, and that he had been told the comic was not ready to talk.

Time will tell how Will Smith’s career fares in the wake of the slap, but so far the responses to his few public statements have been largely positive. Shortly after the Oscars there was a flurry of reports of Smith projects being canceled, delayed, or put on indefinite hold; but now it seems like at least some of those stories jumped the gun. For example, in spite of stories that Smith’s upcoming Apple film Emancipation was being pushed to 2023, in July Deadline said the film would be premiering in December. An action thriller set in the era of slavery, Emancipation is expected to be an Oscar contender, though if it wins anything Smith won’t be there to accept the trophy himself. His 10-year ban from all Academy Awards events, including the Oscars, is still in effect.