Will Smith has responded to audiences choosing not to watch his upcoming film Emancipation. The actor spoke with Fox 5’s Good Day DC and revealed he would not blame anyone for not watching the film following the Oscars slap incident earlier this year.
“I completely understand — if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” shared the Academy Award-winning actor.
“My deepest concern is my team – Antoine [Fuqua] has done what I think is the greatest work of 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. At this point, that’s what I’m working for.”
Smith added, “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 would open people’s hearts at a minimum to see and recognize and support the incredible artists in and around this film.”
Emancipation is set for its theatrical release on Dec. 2 and will stream the following week on Apple TV+. It stars Smith in the historically-based story inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly.
Director Antoine Fuqua shared his hope that potential audiences have moved past the controversial moment.
“Of course I wanted people to see the film. My conversation was always, ‘Isn’t 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?’ 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. So 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.”
Watch the official trailer for Emancipation below.