Will Smith Responds To Critics Who Don’t Want To See Him In Film

Will Smith says he understands if people don't want to see him in the upcoming movie Emancipation, but hopes that does not affect the crew of the film.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Will smith

Will Smith says he completely understands why people might not want to see his new movie. The actor made the revelation during the press tour for his upcoming filmEmancipation. Addressing the fallout from the infamous Oscars slap, the King Richard star told journalist Kevin McCarthy, “If someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready.”

But his biggest hope is that his actions don’t negatively affect everyone who worked on the movie. “My deepest concern is my team,” Will Smith explained. “And my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team. At this point, that’s what I’m working for.” Emancipation is the 54-year-old’s first major role since the 94th Academy Awards, where the actor slapped Chris Rock after he made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Later that evening, Will Smith won the highly coveted Best Actor Award and apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and other nominees in his acceptance speech. He also issued an apology to Chris Rock through social media the next day. The shocking incident largely overshadowed the remainder of the prestigious awards ceremony and prompted outrage, commentary, and discourse around the world.

Following the controversial incident, plans to release Emancipation this fall were scrapped and the movie was allegedly pushed back to 2023. But Apple TV+ executives had a change of heart and decided to release the drama in select cinemas on December 2nd, before its streaming release on December 9th. The film has already created Oscar buzz, and although Will Smith is banned from attending Academy events for the next decade, the actor and his projects can still be nominated.

will smith emancipation
Will Smith in Emancipation

Directed by Antoine Fuqua from a script by William N. Collage, Emancipation is billed as an action/thriller. It stars Will Smith as Peter, along with Ben Foster as Fassel, and Charmaine Bingwa as Dodienne. Gilbert Owuor, Mustafa Shakir, and Steven Ogg also star. It also features performances by Grant Harvey, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Jayson Warner Smith, Jabbar Lewis, Michael Luwoye, Aaron Moten, and Imani Pullum.

The story follows Peter (Will Smith), a slave who escapes a Louisiana plantation after a severe whipping that almost killed him. After surviving the region’s unforgiving swamps and outwitting cold-blooded hunters, he makes his way North where he joins the Union Army. The film is based on the life of a real escaped slave named Gordon (later identified as being named Peter). Images of his body, heavily scarred from violent whippings, were published worldwide in 1863 and gave the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of slavery.

An early test screening of the Will Smith movie in Washington, D.C. on October 1st received a positive response from audiences. MovieWeb described the reaction as overwhelmingly positive, with Will Smith’s performance, in particular, receiving high praise. Attendees interviewed after seeing Emancipation said they were not deterred by the slap at the Oscars. And even if some didn’t agree with his actions, it didn’t affect their opinion of the movie.