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Will Smith’s Oscar slap casts shadow on Letterman interview

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Actor Will Smith was a guest on a new season of the Netflix show “My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.”

The interview was recorded in January, two months before Smith’s attack on comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony over a joke about Smith’s wife’s shaved head.

Jada Pinkett Smith had previously talked about her issues with hair loss, and Smith has since apologized to Rock on social media.

The Oscar slap cast a bizarre shadow over a fun moment on the show with the former late-night host.

During the interview, Smith presented tips on throwing and dodging a punch, which he learned while training to play Muhammad Ali. He talked candidly about his drive to excel and his expectations to remain a leading man.

Smith also talked about his November 2021 memoir “Will,” which describes his feelings about not being able to protect his mother from abuse.

“The first line of the first chapter is, ‘I’ve always thought of myself as a coward,'” Smith told Letterman. “When I was 9 years old, I saw my father beat up my mother, and I didn’t do anything. And that just left a traumatic impression of myself as a coward.”

Smith added that he was ready to “dive into my art in a way that I think will be hopefully fulfilling for me and helpful for the human family.”

Smith said life was exciting because he could finally reach out to and connect with people, largely because of his own pain.

Months after the interview was filmed, Smith would blame his outburst at the 2022 Oscars on his emotional reaction to Rock’s joke, feeling it took aim at his wife’s medical condition. The board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later banned Smith from any Academy events for 10 years.

“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said after the ban was announced.

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