Will Smith’s ‘Emancipation’ More Important Than Oscars Blow: Director

Will Smith's first feature film Emancipation comes out eight months after he punched Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Will Smith’s first feature film Emancipation will be released eight months after he punched Chris Rock at the Oscars. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

Will Smith’s new movie Emancipation hits theaters in two weeks, which for a star of his caliber usually means he’d be on a total press blitz now ahead of awards season. Obviously, the media rollout is a bit more complicated, given that Smith slammed Chris Rock at the Oscars months ago and has been banned from Academy events for a decade. Emancipation director Antoine Fuqua spoke Vanity purse and said that this movie is more important than the drama surrounding its star.

“The movie to me is bigger than that moment. Four hundred years of slavery is bigger than one moment. I hope people will see it that way and see the movie and be swept away by Will’s great performance and all the real hard work that went into it.” the whole crew did,” Fuqua said.

However, Fuqua was stunned by the Oscar incident after spending two years with Smiwth making the Civil War drama.

“I haven’t met a nicer person. I’m honest about it. He was nice to everyone on set. Will went around and hugged and shook hands – we had like 300 extras and military. Marines. We had to get Will out of it stopped doing that because of COVID,” the director explained.

“So I saw a different person than that one moment in time, and so my reaction was that that particular moment was very strange to me when it came to Will Smith. I have nothing but amazing things to say about Will Smith, really honestly, continued Fuqua. “You can ask anyone who worked on the film, they will tell you the same thing. The nicest person I’ve ever met in my life. Chris Rock – I know Chris – Chris is a good guy too. I’ve spent time with Chris, and I think it’s an unfortunate event and I hope we can move on and get past it.”

After “the blow”, it was unclear how Smith’s career would be affected. Hours after punching Rock in the face for joking about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor won his first-ever Oscar. But production on a Netflix project and Bad Boys 4 were reportedly paused and delayed. Apple TV+ remained silent on whether Emancipation would be released as planned.

“Of course I wanted people to see the movie. My conversation was always, ‘Isn’t 400 years of slavery, cruelty more important than one bad moment?’ We were in Hollywood and really ugly things happened, and we saw a lot of people get awards that did really nasty things,” Fuqua told the magazine. “So I think Apple considered all those things, and we discussed a lot of those things. Then a decision was made by the people responsible for distribution and the money at Apple — and I’m thankful, I’m really thankful .

Smith answered some questions via email for the Vanity purse profile, but declined to answer one about the blow and its effect on the movie. The actor has publicly apologized to Rock twice, has been photographed in public a few times, but has generally stayed out of the limelight.

Emancipation is Smith’s successor King Richard, which won him the Oscar for Best Actor in March. Smith plays Peter, known to history as “Whipped Peter”, an escaped slave-turned-Union Army soldier immortalized in 19th-century photographs that reveal the scars on his back from a brutal whiplash.

Emancipation arrives in theaters December 2 and streams the following week on Apple TV+.

MORE: Will Smith breaks silence on Oscar’s slap in new video

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