Will Smith is well aware his 2022 Oscars actions could affect the success of his latest flick “Emancipation”.
Smith stars in the film as Peter, a slave who “flees a plantation in Louisiana after he was whipped within an inch of his life.”
A synopsis continues, “He has to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on a torturous journey north.” It’s a true story.
After that Chris Rock slap back in March, Smith resigned from the Academy and was given a 10-year ban from the ceremony, meaning he won’t be returning in 2023.
Smith says in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “The only discomfort my heart has around that is that so many people have done spectacular work on this film.”
Will Smith Paid Extras On ‘Emancipation’ Out Of His Own Pocket
He adds, speaking as part of a roundtable alongside his co-stars Ben Foster and Charmaine Bingwa, “My hope is that my team isn’t penalized at all for my actions. I think [director Antoine Fuqua] and [cinematographer Robert Richardson] and Ben and Charmaine — everyone has done such spectacular work.
“I definitely lose a couple winks of sleep every night thinking that I could have potentially penalized my team, but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that everyone gets seen in the light that they deserve.”
Smith shares of the film, “I had seen the image of Whipped Peter as a child, but as his story started to come into focus, I was moved in all of the most beautiful ways,” referencing that shocking 1863 photograph.
He calls receiving the screenplay “one of the greatest reads” he’s seen as an actor.
Will Smith Will Never Be Broken In Trailer For Slavery Escape Drama ‘Emancipation’
Smith continues, “When you look at the brutality that he suffered, and then realizing that through that he was able to sustain faith, gratitude, and love in the face of those kinds of atrocities — I knew that I wanted to learn from Peter.”
The star also responds to anyone who might not be ready for Smith’s movie comeback, telling journalist Kevin McCarthy, “I completely understand — if someone is not ready, I would absolutely respect that and allow them their space to not be ready,“ Variety reports.
“My deepest concern is my team – Antoine 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” hits select cinemas on Dec. 2 before launching on Apple TV+ Dec. 9.