Michael Bay Takes a Shot at Hollywood’s Self-Importance While Defending Will Smith: ‘I Really Don’t Care’

Michael Bay and Will Smith shared the set on two moviesBad Boys and Bad Boys II. The first movie was Bay’s first feature film, and it was one of Smith’s first movie roles. Bay directed Smith in the past, but now he’s defending him.

After Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, several of his movie projects have been paused. Bay isn’t attached to the planned Bad Boys 4, but he’s still defending Smith while taking a shot at Hollywood’s self-importance.

Michael Bay attends the UK premiere of 'Ambulance' in March 2022; Will Smith at a 2020 screening of 'Bad Boys for Life' in Spain.
(l-r) Michael Bay, Will Smith | Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images; Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bay says there are more important things in the world than what happens in ‘self-absorbed’ Hollywood

Bay responded to questions about Smith’s slap while promoting his latest movie Ambulance. Bay doesn’t agree with the way Smith handled the situation, but he also doesn’t understand the sustained discussion about the incident. 

“First of all, it’s wrong to begin with,” Bay told Yahoo. “But that’s all people are talking about. And I don’t really care. Hollywood gets really self-absorbed. There are babies getting blown up in Ukraine right now. We should be talking about that.”

Bay didn’t watch the 2022 Oscars, so he didn’t see the slap happen live, but he soon heard about it. He told Yahoo that the Smith who strode on stage to assault Rock isn’t the Smith he knows.

The director defends Smith after Academy Awards incident — but not his actions

Bay didn’t watch the 2022 Oscars, so he didn’t see the slap happen live, but text messages flooded his phone soon after. And not long after that, Bay made it clear what kind of person he knows Smith to be. Bay vouched for Smith, but he doesn’t condone how he handled the situation. 

“I’ve worked with him. He is not that guy,” Bay told Yahoo. “I’ve never seen him lose his cool like that. I thought it was set up because I saw the smirk, and I’ve been on set when Will screws with people, when he’s joking with people.

“Listen, it was a slap. It wasn’t a punch. He’s very good at fighting, he’s trained at that … But it’s wrong to begin with.”

Bay doesn’t condone Smith’s violent act, nor that of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and he’s backing up the latter stance with the release of Ambulance.

Bay back up his words about Smith’s attack with ‘Ambulance’ release

Bay told Yahoo that Smith assaulting Rock was the wrong thing to do. Despite what his movies might show, he doesn’t condone violence, and he’s backing it up with the release of Ambulance.

The Oscars, the slap, and the continued discussion in Hollywood are infinitely less important to Bay than real-world problems like the war in Ukraine. The world’s focus should be on ending the violence. In his small way, he’s helping to make that happen.

Ambulance won’t see a release in Russia. Universal is one of several studios keeping its films from Russian audiences, per IndieWire

A smaller distribution footprint means fewer theaters, which means fewer tickets sold, which leads to a lower worldwide box office total.

Now, it’s not solely Bay’s decision whether or not to distribute to Russia, but as both the director and a producer on the film, he certainly has a voice at the table in those conversations. And he’s using that voice to advocate for what he believes in — that the small problems in the self-absorbed Hollywood bubble shouldn’t overshadow real-world issues.

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