Will Smith's new film "Emancipation" is in theaters on December 2 and on Apple TV+ on December 9.
The actor has shared his thoughts about audiences who might feel conflicted over watching the film.
"My deepest hope is that my actions don't penalize my team," he said, referencing the Oscars slap.
Will Smith has shared a message for those who might be feeling a little conflicted about watching his new movie following his 2022 Oscars slap controversy.
"Emancipation" is set to be released in theaters on December 2 and stars Smith as a slave named Peter who flees a plantation in Louisiana after nearly being killed.
Premiering on Apple TV+ a few days later on December 9, the movie is the actor's first on-screen appearance since he was banned from attending the Academy Awards for 10 years after slapping Chris Rock.
In a new interview with FOX 5's "Good Day DC," journalist Kevin McCarthy asked Smith what he "would tell people who say 'I'm not ready' or 'it's too soon'" to watch the actor again.
"I completely understand that if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready," he said.
Smith added that his "deepest concern" is if his involvement in the film will damage his collaborators' reputations and their chances of being recognized by Oscars voters for their work on the film.
"Antoine has done what I think is the greatest work of his career," he said of the filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, who previously directed "Training Day" (2001), "The Magnificent Seven" (2016), "The Equalizer" (2014), and its sequel, "The Equalizer 2" (2018.)
Smith also namechecked his costars Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa, as well as the film's "brilliant" cinematographer Robert Richardson, costume designer Naomi Shohan, and costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck.
"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," he said.
The actor added that he hoped "the material" and "the timeliness of the story" would be what people focus on, not him.
"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."
Since the 2022 Oscars in March, Smith has apologized publicly and said that he has reached out to apologize to Rock, but the actor still received backlash from several comedians and fans.
"Emancipation" premieres in theaters on December 2 and is available to stream on Apple TV+ from December 9.