Will Smith has returned to the stage of an awards event after an extended absence.
In his first in-person awards show speech nearly a year after slapping Chris Rock in the face at the 2022 Academy Awards, the 54-year-old actor acknowledged his fellow Liberation cast and crew for their efforts in making the film, which won a special honor at the African-American Film Critics Association Awards on Wednesday night.
“Emancipation was without a doubt the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on during my whole career, that is correct; everything took place outside ”
He went on, “I would want to express my gratitude to [Gil L. Robertson IV, co-founder of the AAFCA] and to the AAFCA. I would want to extend my gratitude to everyone who is here in this room for doing what you do and keeping our tales alive.
I’d want to express my gratitude to Apple for helping me out with the finances, and then there was also the matter of the budget. And Apple never even batted an eye.”
“That was the very first time that I had ever heard from a studio that the narrative was more important than how much it costs to get it done… They manufacture Apple iPhones. They have the capability to execute it,” he said.
Although Smith is enjoying the acclaim that has been showered upon the historical drama, he said in November that he had trouble sleeping because he was concerned about how his confrontation with Rock, 58, at the Oscars in March might effect the reception that the picture would get.
“I certainly lose a few of winks of sleep every night knowing that I might have maybe punished my team,” the actor added. “It’s absolutely something that keeps me up at night.” “But I’m going to do all I can to make sure that everyone is viewed in the light that they deserve.”
Smith said to the publication that the script for Emancipation, which was written by Bill Collage, “was one of the finest readings I’ve ever had as an actor.”
The actor commented on the film, which is based on “the 1863 images of ‘Whipped Peter,’ taken during a Union Army medical examination, saying, “I knew I wanted to do it by the time I was on page 20.”