‘Emancipation’ director addresses Will Smith’s Oscar slap

“Emancipation” director Antoine Fuqua came to the defense of his upcoming Apple TV+ movie starring Will Smith after the infamous slap incident at the Oscars earlier this year.

The new drama, in which he stars as an enslaved man on the run from a Louisiana plantation, is Smith’s first role post-smack controversy.

Fuqua, 56, told Vanity Fair recently that he always planned to debut the film, regardless of the Oscars issue.

“My conversation was always, ‘Isn’t 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?’” the “Equalizer” director said.

“We were in Hollywood, and there’s been some really ugly things that have taken place, and we’ve seen a lot of people get awards that have done some really nasty things.”

Fuqua said Apple supported the release, too.

“I think Apple considered all those things, and we discussed a lot of those things. Then a decision was made by the people in charge of distribution and the money at Apple — and I’m grateful, I’m really grateful,” he said.

“There was never a conversation with me and Apple or my producers, Todd Black and Jon Mone or Heather Washington, about the movie not coming out. It was more about, ‘We’re assessing everything. We’re seeing what people are saying.’”

Antione Fuqua
“My conversation was always, ‘Isn’t 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?’” Fuqua said.
Getty Images for Prime Video

The “Training Day” director also noted how the “King Richard” star, 54, was “kind to everyone on the set.”

“So no excuses for anyone or anything, but I can say that he’s a good man and I hope that people can forgive him and that we can move forward,” Fuqua concluded. “I hope Chris [Rock] and Will find a way to sit together publicly, privately, whatever, and make amends.”

Smith slapped Oscars presenter Chris Rock at the coveted awards show this past March after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Will Smith
“Emancipation” stars Smith as a runaway slave and will debut in theaters on Dec. 2. It will be available to stream on Apple TV+ starting Dec. 9.
Phil Mccarten/Invision/AP

The “Men in Black” actor was subsequently banned from the Oscars for the next decade and apologized to Rock, 57.

However, “Emancipation” has been getting rave reviews and earned applause during a special screening hosted by the NAACP last month.

“Throughout my career, I’ve turned down many films that were set in slavery,” Smith noted at the screening. “I never wanted to show us like that. And then this picture came along. And this is not a film about slavery. This is a film about freedom. This is a film about resilience. This is a film about faith.”

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