The 53-year-old actor shared a deeply personal video message to social media on Friday in which he apologized to Rock and the comedian's family, as well as his own family and friends. He also revealed that he had reached out to Rock. However, "the message that came back," Smith said, 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."
Smith said his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, did not ask him to slap Rock and apologized to her and his family for "the heat" that he brought on them. "I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my own history with Chris. Jada had nothing to do with it," he said.
"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."
The now-infamous altercation unfolded after Rock took the stage to present at the 94th annual Academy Awards in March. While presenting, the Saturday Night Live alum quipped, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," referencing her shaved head. Within seconds, Smith walked onstage and slapped Rock across the face.
The Girls Trip actress has been vocal about her struggles with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder which causes bald spots and hair loss. After delivering the slap, Smith returned to his seat and yelled, "Keep my wife's name out your f**king mouth."
In his new video, Smith shared, "I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuances and the complexities of what happened in that moment."
"I'm not going to try to unpack all of that right now," he said, "but I can say to all of you there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There's no part of me that thinks that's the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults."
Smith addressed his fellow nominees and said it "breaks" his heart to have "tarnished" their moment. "I can still see Questlove's eyes," he continued. "It happened on Questlove's award and, you know, it's like 'I'm sorry' really isn't sufficient."
A source tells ET that the incident has forced Smith to take a look at some of the "bigger issues" in his life.
"He has other things that he has been focused on working out, which involves his relationship with his family, Jada and within himself. He has been laying low and doing the work to make real changes for the future," the source says. "Will is still processing everything and thinks he didn't handle the situation with Chris properly, but also has had an internal dilemma about it all."
As for Rock, the source adds, "He was very upset with everything, of course, and how it has been handled. He is focused on his family, career, relationship and wants to move forward in his own way, but is obviously aware that this has become a global phenomenon."