Will Smith is fully aware that his actions at the 94th Academy Awards in March could hurt his new movie Emancipation.
Months removed from one of the most embarrassing moments in Will Smith’s acting career, the Oscar winner is ready to move forward. In his first acting role since the infamous slap heard around the world, Smith teams up with director Antoine Fuqua.
For Smith, the goal is to focus on the hard work put into the Oscar hopeful film. Many might not be ready to watch and support Will Smith on the big screen. “I completely understand — if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,” Smith told Fox 5’s Good Day DC journalist Kevin McCarthy. “My deepest concern is my team – Antoine [Fuqua] has done what I think is the greatest work of his entire career. 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. At this point, that’s what I’m working for.”
Emancipation tells the triumphant story of Peter (Will Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom.
“[The movie] came into my life in a time that I was seeking and I was searching,” Smith said during the Sunday interview on Fox. “And I learned many things from Peter and I’m absolutely changed for having this spiritual run-in with this great man.”
The film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “Whipped Peter,” taken during a Union Army medical examination, that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly. One image, known as “The Scourged Back,” which shows Peter’s bare back mutilated by a whipping delivered by his enslavers, ultimately contributed to growing public opposition to slavery.
Emancipation premieres in theaters on Dec. 2 with a streaming launch set for Dec. 9.