Will Smith sat down with Trevor Noah on Monday night’s edition of “The Daily Show”, marking his first late-night interview since he notoriously slapped Chris Rock onstage during the Academy Awards back in March.
During the interview, Smith attempted to offer an explanation for his actions.
“I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody’s going through,” Smith told Noah. “You just don’t know what’s going on with people. And I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behaviour at all.”
People spoke with an array of Hollywood insiders about Smith’s interview, who offered their opinions on how effective Smith was at damage control.
“I thought he was doing a good job but he did two things that bothered me: He never said he was sorry again, and he didn’t address Chris Rock again. Maybe that’s on purpose, but when he said, ‘I have to accept myself as being a flawed human,’ it was a little bit of, I’m letting myself off the hook. I wanted to hear something about the work he’s doing,” said a source identified as a “veteran studio publicist,” who also conceded that Smith’s recent “public apology tour is better than what he released months ago” via social media.
Meanwhile, another PR exec said, “I will tell you that my position is this: Audiences love him. The industry loves him. What hurt so much in that slap is that it was one of the most beloved actors of our generation,” the source continues. “It may not be today or tomorrow (or, specifically, this Oscar season), but as horrible as the moment was, people really wish it never happened and would love to be able to move on. Chris Rock, to be clear, deserves a lot of credit for that. Had he handled it differently — and he had every right to do so — we’d all be in a different place.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Bock, media analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., points out that the PR campaign for Smith’s new movie, “Emancipation”, is “obviously fully conceived and constructed for Smith to be brought back into the good graces of audiences, more so than advertising the film itself.”