"The Imitation Game" and
"I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really difficult in the U.K. and I think a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here than in the U.K. and that's something that needs to change," the 38-year-old Oscar nominee said.
The utterance was criticized as outdated and out of touch, despite the actor's attempt to discuss race disparities in his field.
"Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society," a spokesperson for charity Show Racism the Red Card told various outlets. "In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language."
Smiley, who is African American, didn't speak about the actor's remarks, but didn't seem to take much offense to them either.
On Monday, the "devastated" Emmy winner called himself an "idiot" and "complete fool" for his "thoughtless use of inappropriate language."
"I'm devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies," he said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done. I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive."
He continued: "The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term. I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply."
Incidentally, the star, who appeared in the Oscar-winning
"The Hobbit" actor has previously addressed the topic and his mother, Wanda Ventham, discouraged him from using his last name because of it, the Telegraph said.