AceShowbiz - Will Smith could be gunning for his next Oscar with his "Emancipation" role. The "King Richard" star is making his movie comeback in the historical film following his controversial behavior at the 2022 Academy Awards and judging from the newly-released trailer, he makes a pretty strong case for an award-worthy performance.
Unleashed on Wednesday, November 16 by Apple TV, the dramatic trailer follows the journey of Peter (Smith), who is separated from his family and forced to work as a slave. Determined to return to his family, he plots his escape before he gets caught in the Civil War.
According to the official logline, one man fights through unthinkable terrors in an attempt to reunite with his family. After being whipped nearly to death, an enslaved man named Peter escapes from a Louisiana plantation, outwitting cold-blooded hunters, as he makes his way North, where he joins the Union Army.
The film is based on the true story of Gordon. Photographs of his bare back, heavily scourged from an overseer's whippings, were published worldwide in 1863, giving the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of American slavery.
"Emancipation" marks Smith's first movie release since the 2022 Academy Awards, where he slapped Chris Rock, who was on hand as presenter, on stage in March. The film was screened for the first time on October 1 at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 51st annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by Apple, which won the rights to the film in 2020, and NAACP.
Antoine Fuqua, who directed the pic, has explained why he insists on releasing "Emancipation" in the wake of Smith's Oscar drama. "Of course I wanted people to see the film," he told Vanity Fair. "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."
The "Olympus Has Fallen" director revealed that Smith's slap took him by surprise as he "hasn't met a nicer human being." The filmmaker 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, and so my reaction was 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," he added. "You can ask anybody that worked on the movie, they'll tell you the same. Nicest person I've ever met in my life."
"Emancipation" is set to open in theaters on December 2, before being made available on Apple TV+ on December 9.