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Will Smith's Trevor Noah Interview Gets Split Reactions from Hollywood: 'Better' Apology, Needs 'More Humility'

People 11/30/2022 Benjamin VanHoose

Frazer Harrison/Getty © Provided by People Frazer Harrison/Getty

Will Smith's recent sit-down with The Daily Show's Trevor Noah has been met with varying reactions from Hollywood insiders.

Smith previously apologized to Chris Rock for hitting him at the Oscars earlier this year in a video he released on his social media in July. On Monday's episode of Noah's Comedy Central late show, Smith took part in his first interview since the incident aired. While promoting his new film Emancipation, Smith, 54, said of the incident, "There's many nuances and complexities to it, you know, but at the end of the day, I just — I lost it."

Industry sources shared mixed reactions with PEOPLE about the emotional interview and whether audiences will be willing to move past the Oscars moment.

About the interview, a veteran studio publicist source says, "I thought he was doing a good job but he did two things that bothered me: He never said he was sorry again, and he didn't address Chris Rock again. Maybe that's on purpose, but when he said, 'I have to accept myself as being a flawed human,' it was a little bit of, I'm letting myself off the hook. I wanted to hear something about the work he's doing."

"I do believe he's gutted. But I needed more humility," the source adds. "I don't think this automatically shifts him into a different position in the Oscar race but I do appreciate that he recognizes he's jeopardized the work of all these artists. I just wanted 'sorry.' What I do agree with is that cancel culture is getting bananas. I don't think he should be judged on this one incident [the rest of his life]."

That source says they think Smith's recent "public apology tour is better than what he released months ago" on his social media channels.

Another longtime industry PR executive says: "I will tell you that my position is this: Audiences love him. The industry loves him."

"What hurt so much in that slap is that it was one of the most beloved actors of our generation," the source continues. "It may not be today or tomorrow (or, specifically, this Oscar season), but as horrible as the moment was, people really wish it never happened and would love to be able to move on. Chris Rock, to be clear, deserves a lot of credit for that. Had he handled it differently — and he had every right to do so — we'd all be in a different place.

RELATED: Will Smith Says He Loses Sleep Thinking He 'Penalized' His Emancipation Team After Oscars Slap

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Jeff Bock, media analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., tells PEOPLE that the awards campaign surrounding Emancipation is "obviously fully conceived and constructed for Smith to be brought back into the good graces of audiences, more so than advertising the film itself."

Smith — who resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was banned from attending its ceremonies for the next 10 years — said in a video earlier this summer that he has been doing "a lot of thinking and personal work" in the months since the incident.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah/Youtube Will Smith on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah © Provided by People The Daily Show with Trevor Noah/Youtube Will Smith on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

He said, "I've reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he's not ready to talk, and when he is he will reach out. So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk."

Smith explained at the time that he is "trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself," adding, "I'm human. I made a mistake and I'm trying not to think of myself as a piece of s---."

During his Daily Show appearance, he told Noah, "I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody's going through. You just don't know what's going on with people. And I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all."

In Emancipation, Smith stars as Peter, a man whose escape from slavery forces him to rely "on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family" as he runs from slave hunters and through Louisiana on his journey toward freedom.

The upcoming movie is inspired by "the 1863 photos of 'Whipped Peter,' taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper's Weekly," the synopsis reads.

Emancipation is in select theaters Friday and streaming on Apple TV+ Dec. 9.

Read the original article on People

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