Last year’s 94th Academy Awards were thrown into turmoil after Will Smith strode onto the stage and struck presenter Chris Rock across the face in response to a joke he made about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, which is a result of her alopecia.
Following the controversial moment, Pinkett Smith, 52, found herself at the centre of the incident, with some believing that she had “told Will to do something” in response to Rock’s comment.
“It was ridiculous how far it went,” The Nutty Professor actor said of the rumours in a new interview with People.
“But I also understood at the same time. Considering the false narrative that I had cheated on Will or I was like some adulteress, Will had never done that before,” Pinkett Smith said.
“And I think that when we just look at human nature... when you look at the breadcrumbs, people need something to blame.
“And so people not knowing what was happening behind the scenes, I surely wasn’t surprised that I got blamed,” she added. “But I understood that that’s just the human nature of it all.”
Will, 55, addressed the rumours at the time, denying that Pinkett Smith had any influence on his behaviour that night.
“It’s like… I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it,” the Men in Black star stated in a video shared on social media. “I’m sorry, babe. I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I’ve brought on all of us.”
Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Chris Rock— (AFP via Getty Images)
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview in promotion of her forthcoming memoir, Worthy, Pinkett Smith said she remembered initially thinking that the whole thing was a skit.
“I was like, ‘There’s no way that Will hit him.’ It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realised it wasn’t a skit,” she said, revealing that the first words she said to her husband once they were alone were: “Are you okay?”
In his first late-night talk show appearance following the fiasco, Will told The Daily Show with Trevor Noah that he was “going through something that night”, attributing his actions to “bottled rage”.
Shortly afterwards, the Emancipation actor apologised to the Academy and Rock for his “unacceptable behaviour”.
While Will went on to win Best Actor for his starring role in King Richard minutes after the on-air altercation, he was banned from Academy events for 10 years.
Pinkett Smith also revealed to the magazine that she and Will have been separated for seven years.
“We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together. We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us,” the Girls Trip actor said. “I’m going to be by his side, but also allow him to have to figure this out for himself.”
Worthy is out on 17 October.