Will Smith makes first public appearance since Oscars slap
MUMBAI - American movie star Will Smith has surfaced in India, in his first public appearance after he slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards on March 28.
Social media was left buzzing by footage of Smith in Mumbai - at a location that United States media outlet People said was a private airport in the Indian city.
The video appears to have been taken on Saturday (April 23) afternoon, and bystanders can be heard yelling, "Will! Will Smith!" to capture his attention.
The footage shows the 53-year-old actor - known for his roles in the iconic television series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990 to 1996) as well as blockbuster films such as Men In Black (1997) and Independence Day (1996) - obligingly taking photographs with a few fans, before heading into a building.
Smith's reasons for visiting India are unknown. But he is not a stranger to the country. In a 2019 Instagram post, he wrote that "traveling to India and experiencing the colors, people and natural beauty has awakened a new understanding of myself."
Given that people are still talking about the notorious slapping incident, it's possible that Smith is hoping for more personal enlightenment in this current trip.
He has faced an unrelenting wave of negative publicity with his Best Actor Oscar win for King Richard (2021) all but forgotten in the uproar.
The actor has been banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, and production on his National Geographic series, Pole To Pole, has been delayed.
The slap occurred after Rock, who was presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, cracked a joke about the shaven head of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.
The 50-year-old actress, who suffers from alopecia, has largely avoided discussing the controversy.
But a new episode of her Facebook talk show Red Table Talk, which went up on Wednesday, was prefaced with a message saying that "the Smith family has been focusing on deep healing. Some of the discoveries around our healing will be shared at the table when the time calls."