The comedian declared the situation 'Will and Chris' problem,' saying they should be allowed space to 'recover.'
Kevin Hart is giving his "brother" Will Smith some appreciation. During his appearance on Drink Champs, the comedian defended the Oscar winner when hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN asked him to choose between Smith and rapper Ice Cube.
Although Hart noted that both Smith and Ice Cube are his "brothers," he chose the former. He explained that the actor was "not only a legend" but credited Smith for giving a platform to Black actors and creators in Hollywood.
"I'mma say Will Smith, and here's why: Will Smith is a f**king-- he's not only a legend, he's not only a GOAT... [he] is the reason why the idea of African Americans attached to global IP is normal," he declared. "Studios took the gamble on more leads of color because of the work that Will Smith, Denzel were doing in the beginning, right? You need the faces that are giving the universal return. So I'm not gonna s**t on Will and act like he hasn't been, and wasn't, that guy."
"And people make mistakes, and from mistakes they should be allowed time to f**king recover," he added in response to the hosts' jokes about Smith, Chris Rock and the Oscar slap heard 'round the world. "And that this is no longer the world's problem, it's Will and Chris' problem. Let them deal with that. The world should step out of it and let them recover."
It isn't the first time the comedian has defended the King Richard actor since the incident. In July, Hart spoke with ET at the premiere of his animated movie, DC League of Super-Pets, and addressed the altercation between Smith and Rock.
"Will is apologetic, you know, he's in a better space, of course, than what he was after," he said. "People are human and as humans sometimes we make mistakes. So it's not about talking about the past, it's about acknowledging the present and doing your best to move forward."
"I can only hope that the two of them find a way to find some solace in that and move past it," Hart continued. "I just like good energy. I love to see people be the best."
"I still love him, I still love Chris, and, you know, you can't judge a person by one thing," he added. "Ultimately, life goes on and people grow, so give him the opportunity to do so."
Later that month, Smith shared a deeply personal video message to social media in which he apologized to Rock and the comedian's family, as well as his own family and friends. He revealed that he had reached out to Rock, but "the message that came back" was that the comedian was not ready to talk and would reach out when he is.
"It's all fuzzy," Smith said of that night. "I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I'm here whenever you're ready to talk."
"I hate when I let people down. So it hurts, it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn't live up to people's image and impression of me," Smith told viewers in the video confessional. "And the work I'm trying to do is, I am deeply remorseful and I'm trying to be remorseful without being ashamed of myself. I'm human and I made a mistake, and I'm trying not to think of myself as a piece of s**t."
"I know it was confusing, I know it was shocking, but I promise you I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world," he said, "and, you know, if you hang on, I promise we'll be able to be friends again."