Will Smith Recalls An Emotional Interaction With His Nine-Year-Old Nephew After The Oscars Slap

As the 2023 Oscar race starts to heat up, the discourse surrounding last year’s ceremony and the slap continue to be a major point of discussion, especially with Will Smith promoting his upcoming film on the 2023 film schedule Emancipation. Over the last few days, the actor has started talking more about what happened that night. He has also discussed how he feels about it now, and told a story about an emotional interaction he had with his 9-year-old nephew after the ceremony. 

While talking with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show Smith opened up about what happened after he slapped Chris Rock. Noah explained his take on the situation, and then Smith opened up about his own reaction at the moment, and how those close to him, like is young nephew, responded to it too, saying: 

I understand how shocking that was for people, on that stage. I was gone, dude. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time. But I understand the pain. My nephew Dom is nine, and he’s the sweetest little boy. We came home and he had stayed up to see his Uncle Will. And we’re sitting in my kitchen and he’s on my lap, and he’s holding the Oscar and he’s just like ‘Why did you hit that man, Uncle Will?’ Damnit.

Smith then pulled a tissue out of his pocket, and continued saying “it was a mess.” Clearly, the actor was impacted not only by his actions, but also by the emotional response from his young nephew who had watched the moment on TV. 

As for the rest of Smith's family, his kids Willow and Jaden Smith have not said much, but did seem to respond to the situation on social media.  Willow open up a bit recently though, saying she sees her "whole family as being human." 

Jada Pinkett Smith also spoke out about the slap, saying she hopes both her husband and Chris Rock have "an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile." 

The discourse surrounding Smith slapping Rock has gone on all year. With Emancipation coming out soon, there has been a lot of discussion about if the film will get nominated, and how the slap will impact the film's odds coming into the awards season. Based on Academy Members' thoughts on Smith’s actions and Emancipation, it’s unclear if the film will be represented at the Academy Awards

When it comes to the film getting nominated, Smith shared his thoughts on the criticism that Emancipation is coming out too soon. He explained to ReelBlend co-host Jake Hamilton that: 

I would just hope that these spectacular artists that have come together on this project, I would hope that they would no be penalized for a few horrific moments of indiscretion on my part.

Antoine Fuqua has also weighed in on how Emancipation will be received following the slap. He said that the movie “is bigger than that moment.” He also said he hopes people see the film and “be swept away” by Smith’s performance and “all the real hard work that the whole crew did.” 

The King Richard actor went on to tell Noah about what happened at the Oscars, saying it “was a horrific night.” He said there were “many nuances and complexities,” but in the end, he “just lost it.” Smith also talked about how you never know what someone is going through at a given moment and he “was going through something that night.” However, he also said “not that it justifies my behavior at all.” 

Smith said the fact that the people who worked on Emancipation might not get recognized for their work is “killing me dead.” Noah said no one deserves to be defined by one moment. 

In the last few days, Smith has opened up about the slap, and how bad it was. He’s also been open about how much he dislikes the fact that his actions could impact his latest film's chances during the upcoming awards season. This story about his nephew also provides a glimpse into how his family was impacted by the moment too. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.