Will the audiences forgive Will Smith? Can Hollywood forgive Will Smith? Will Smith says that he “completely understands” if audiences aren’t ready to watch him on screen as he promotes his first film since he slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, but he hopes his actions won’t “penalise” the film, which is being released in the lead-up to awards season.
The evening that Tyler Perry is calling one of his “most heartbreaking” happened eight months ago. But the memory is still fresh — and hurtful. In a television interview with Fox 5, the actor acknowledged people’s mixed feelings about watching him act again, ahead of the release of the slavery drama Emancipation, directed by Antoine Fuqua, and Smith’s first major project since the ceremony.
Apple Original Films has timed the promotion and release of Smith’s new film “Emancipation” to awards season; the period thriller, which cost a reported $120 million to produce, premieres in theaters on Friday, followed by a Dec. 9 debut on Apple TV+. The film features the actor as an enslaved man embarking on a perilous journey to escape his oppressors and find freedom after Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
“I completely understand that, if someone is not ready,” Smith told Fox 5. “I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready.
“My deepest concern is my team. Antoine has done what I think is the greatest work in his entire career … the people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team.
“So at this point, that’s what I’m working for. That’s what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping that the material, the power of the film, the timeliness of the story – I’m hoping that the good that can be done – will open people’s hearts at a minimum to see and recognise and support the incredible artists in and around this film.”