Director Michael Bay has insisted Will Smith is a “very balanced guy” as he continues to deal with the fallout from Chris Rock’s Oscar slap.
Smith was banned from all Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences events for the next 10 years on Friday after punching Rock on stage in reaction to a joke the comedian made about his wife, Jada Pinkett. Smith.
While a number of public figures have spoken out in condemnation of Smith’s actions, filmmaker Bay, who directed the star in the first two Bad Boys movies, voiced his support for the beleaguered actor.
In a recent interview with Weekly entertainmentBay was asked if he would ever work with Smith again, in light of the incident, to which he replied, “Absolutely, 100%. He’s a very level-headed guy. Very level-headed.”
Elsewhere, Bay, director of Transformers, The Rock and wearing pearlssuggested that there had been some sort of overreaction from the public when it hit the headlines, as he highlighted the bigger issues that he felt got less attention.
Recalling seeing Smith slap Rock, Bay said: “At first, immediately, I was like, did this just happen? Then I saw Will’s scream. It’s a real Will’s cry.
“Will is an amazing fighter. He studied boxing. First of all, it’s not right to do it no matter what. Let’s just say that. But when people said, ‘Oh, he would have could kill him.” No, a slap. That’s different. A punch? Yeah, you can kill someone. Will slapped him.
The director continued: “I think, everyone talks about it, but you know what? You start thinking about life and it’s like, Oh, my God. Because I was very affected by this Ukrainian war right now.
“I’m friends with the Klitschko brothers. I went to Kyiv, I met the mayor. And I’m like, you know what? There are babies blowing themselves up by the hundreds right now and people are so worried about that. I don’t know.
“For me, it’s just like, enough is enough. Okay, so a dramatic thing happened, but I just think we need to get our priorities straight.”
Vitali Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, is mayor of kyiv, while his brother Wladimir, also a former world boxing title-holder, joined a Ukrainian reserve army unit before the Russian invasion.
Minutes after Smith hit Rock at the Oscars, he returned to the stage to accept the Best Actor award for his performance in the biopic. King Richard. During his acceptance speech, he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees. An apology to Rock was issued a day later, via Smith’s Instagram account.
Days after the incident, Smith resigned from the Academy, less than a week before the organization announced its decision to ban the star from its events for a decade.
The Academy said in its statement: “The 94th Oscars was meant to be a celebration of the many people in our community who did an incredible job last year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For that, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we failed – unprepared for the unprecedented.”
In the open letter to the “Academy family,” Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson then announced that Smith would be banned from all of its events, in-person and virtually, until 2033.
They then praised Rock for maintaining “his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We also want to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their composure and grace during our TV show.”