Will Smith Responds To Angry Fans Boycotting His New Movie

By Michileen Martin | Published

will smith emancipation

If you’re one of the fans who doesn’t feel quite ready to see Will Smith headline another movie, like the release this week of the historical action film Emancipation, then the actor says he respects your wishes. During the promotional lead-up to what’s expected to be an Oscar contender, Smith was asked how he would respond to such fans. The King Richard star expressed nothing but respect for those who haven’t yet forgiven him for slapping Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars.

Journalist and frequent red carpet visitor Kevin McCarthy (via The Illuminerdi) asked Will Smith what he had to say to fans who might not feel ready to see him in Emancipation. “I completely understand,” Smith answered. “If someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready.”

It seems like a pretty fair answer and so far that’s all we’ve been getting from the controversial star. Will Smith just resurfaced in the public eye in a big way to promote Emancipation; appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah among other places. As he has since public statements began to emerge after the Oscars ceremony, Smith expressed regret for what happened and concern for how his actions will impact his colleagues.

will smith return
Will Smith in Emancipation

So far, Will Smith’s Emancipation tour seems to have been met with nothing but forgiveness and understanding. Noah expressed nothing but understanding while making assurances that he believed the star’s standing would recover.

At this rate it wouldn’t be surprising if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors rescinded their 10 year ban on Smith from any of their events. Will Smith can still be nominated for and win Oscars–for Emancipation or any other film–but he can’t attend their events. Smith left the Academy shortly after this year’s Oscars, leaving the ban as their only form of disciplinary action.

The one voice that seems lost, or at least silent, in the conversation Will Smith’s Emancipation tour has sparked is Chris Rock’s. The comic has been relatively silent publicly about the event. In September, Rock was on stage when he responded to Smith’s YouTube resurfacing with “f*** your hostage video.”

It does seem like an unfairly impossible situation that Rock has been put in. As Will Smith promotes Emancipation to his benefit–including doing a lot of much needed triage on his career and standing with the public–the biggest question people are asking about Rock is whether or not he’ll forgive the man who slapped him in front of millions. If Smith agrees then all will be forgiven for the man who humiliated him, and if he doesn’t then many will see him as petty and small.

Will Smith stars in Emancipation which will have its streaming premiere this Friday on Apple TV+.