Will Smith to Enter 2023 Oscar Race With Slavery Drama Emancipation – With the surprising announcement that his slavery-themed drama Emancipation will be released in December, Will Smith is ready to compete for best actor next year. The Apple film, directed by Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua, was originally scheduled for a 2022 release but was postponed after the actor smacked Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars ceremony before winning best actor for his role in King Richard.
Emancipation, which reportedly has a budget of $120 million, is based on the true story of a slave who fled a Louisiana plantation in the 1860s and joined the Union army in the north. Also starring are Ben Foster, Steven Ogg, and Charmaine Bingwa. The film was screened last night in Washington, D.C., as part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Legislative Conference, and a trailer was released alongside a December 2 theater release date and a December 9 Apple TV+ premiere date.
“Will Smith is a great guy,” Fuqua said to Deadline. “I was with him for a couple of years, making this movie. He is a wonderful person, an amazing partner and he did an amazing job on this movie. Chris Rock’s a good guy, I know Chris as well and I just pray it works out for them as friends, and we can move forward.” Smith, who had previously turned down the lead in Django Unchained explained that he was resistant to starring in a film about slavery as he wanted to “depict Black excellence” instead.
“This was one that was about love and the power of Black love,” he said of Emancipation. “And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.” Smith posted a video in July to apologise for his behaviour at the Oscars, saying he was “deeply remorseful”. Rock later dismissed it as a “hostage video.”
A study showed that Smith’s popularity suffered “a very significant and precipitous decline” after the incident. The actor has been banned from attending any Academy event for 10 years. The actor will be up against Brendan Fraser for The Whale and Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, two of the favorites for the prize right now. Coda, a drama about a family, won the Oscar for best picture last year for Apple.