Smith, who later in the evening was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor, described it as “a horrific night”.
Speaking on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Smith said: “I was going through something that night, you know? Not that that justifies my behaviour at all.”
In the now infamous incident, Smith stormed the stage at the Hollywood award ceremony and struck Rock in the face, after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, having a shaved head. Pinkett Smith suffers from the hair loss condition alopecia.
Smith further revealed there were “many nuances and complexities to it,” but added: “I just – I lost it… I understand how shocking that was. I was gone. That was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time.
“I guess what I would say is that you just never know what somebody’s going through,” without revealing any further details.
“That was a horrific night, as you can imagine.”
The interview with Noah was the first time Smith has been publicly challenged about the attack.