Antoine Fuqua has defended the decision to release “Emancipation” in the wake of Will Smith's Oscars slap.
The 56-year-old film-maker has helmed the historical thriller starring Will Smith as an enslaved man that is set for release in cinemas and on Apple TV+ next month.
It marks Smith's first major project since he slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards earlier this year after Rock made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Fuqua says the theme of slavery is more important than the controversy.
He told Vanity Fair: “Of course I wanted people to see the film. My conversation was always, ‘Isn't 400 years of slavery, of brutality, more important than one bad moment?’
“We were in Hollywood, and there's been some really ugly things that have taken place, and we've seen a lot of people get awards that have done some really nasty things.”
Fuqua added: “So I think Apple considered all those things and we discussed a lot of those things. Then, a decision was made by the people in charge of distribution and the money at Apple – and I'm grateful. I'm really grateful.”
The “Olympus Has Fallen” director revealed that Smith's slap took him by surprise.
Fuqua said: “(The slap) didn't feel real to me at all because I was with Will for two years, and I haven't met a nicer human being. I'm being honest about it. He was kind to everyone on the set.
“So, I saw a different person than that one moment in time … that particular moment is very foreign to me when it comes to Will Smith.
“I have nothing but amazing things to say about Will Smith, really genuinely. You can ask anybody that worked on the movie, they'll tell you the same. Nicest person I've ever met in my life.”