While walking the red carpet for Emancipation earlier this week, the actor, 54, revealed the music superstar’s reaction to his film after she attended a private screening of it with some of his other star-studded group of friends in October.
“Rihanna loved the cinematography,” Smith told E! News. “She could not get over the look of the film and how it felt.”
The Aladdin star then added that he also got a pretty good idea of what his other friends who attended the screening — including Dave Chappelle, Tyler Perry, A$AP Rocky and Kenya Barris — also thought of the movie.
“The thing that’s great with Black people is they talk to the screen the whole time, so you don’t have to ask people’s opinion,” he joked to the outlet. “So, I didn’t have to ask anybody’s opinion from the room.”
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Smith shared photos of the screening on Instagram in late October, including a group shot of the A-listers after the movie. He captioned the photo, “EPIC night!! Thanx for coming to see #Emancipation. Hope ya’ll enjoyed!!”
In the post’s comments section, Barris also praised the film saying, “This night was MAGIC and your movie is truly something that will last forever!”
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Set during the American Civil War, Emancipation follows a man named Peter, played by Smith, who escapes slavery and sets out on a quest for freedom from plantation owners that nearly killed him, per IMDB.
The movie marks Smith’s first film after he slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars in March, resulting in his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a ban from attending its ceremonies for the next 10 years.
In July, Smith posted a video to multiple social media platforms apologizing to Rock for the incident and saying that he had been “out of line” and his “actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”
“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is he will reach out,” Smith said. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
He also addressed the idea of letting down fans due to his actions, saying, “it hurts me psychologically and emotionally to know I didn’t live up to people’s image and impression of me.”
“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,” he said.
Emancipation is currently playing at select theaters and will premiere on Dec. 9 on Apple TV+.