Will Smith is making his return to the big screen in the new film titled Emancipation, and the trailer for the movie was just released — check it out below.
The new film tells the story of a slave named Peter (played by Smith) who embarks on a journey to gain his freedom. The two-minute-long trailer shows Peter planning his escape after hearing about the Emancipation Proclamation.
Led by his wits, unwavering faith and devotion to his family, Peter embarks on a long and arduous journey avoiding slave catchers and more in the swamps of Louisiana. The film is inspired by the famous 1863 photo of “Whipped Peter,” an enslaved man who joined the Union Army in hopes of being reunited with his family.
The picture of the man with his back badly bruised from whippings helped bring attention to the brutalities of slavery and helped white Northerners stand against it. It also showed how important mass media was during wartime, as the picture occurred right before the American Civil War.
In an interview with Deadline following the film’s first showing in Washington D.C. on October 1, director Antoine Fuqua commented on Smith raising the bar with his acting in the film.
“Will [Smith] is on a whole different level, in this film. Incredible,” Fuqua said, while Smith wrote on his Instagram page: “This was the hardest movie I’ve ever made. Blood, Sweat & Tears… LITERALLY! Shoutout to Apple who doubled (and tripled) down on their commitment to deliver this epic story to the world.”
Emancipation follows Smith’s Oscar-winning role in 2021’s King Richard. The Philadelphia native played the role of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard Williams, and his quest to train his daughters to become world-renowned athletes.
Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor at the 2022 Academy Awards after slapping Chris Rock across the face at the ceremony for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia. The incident became a viral moment and many called for Will Smith’s cancellation.
After taking a few months off, Smith returned with an apology video addressing the incident while sharing his thoughts about what transpired on that wild night.
“Disappointing people is my central trauma,” he said in the video. “I hate when I let people down. It hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me.”
He continued: “I made a mistake, and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of shit, so I would say to those people, 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. If you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”