The actor said his actions were 'unacceptable and inexcusable' after he hit the comedian on stage at the 94th Academy Awards.
Actor Will Smith publicly apologized to Chris Rock after he slapped the comedian at the Oscars on Sunday. Will Smith said he was "out of line" for walking up on stage and assaulting the comedian. Chris Rock made a joke about the way Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith's wife, wears her hair. Pinkett Smith shaved her head as she suffered from alopecia and has already spoken about her struggles with the autoimmune disease. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” wrote the actor, reported HuffPost.
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” he wrote in a statement released on Instagram. The actor also apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the producers of the awards show, all the Oscars attendees and viewers. "I would like to apologize to the Williams family and my King Richard family, he wrote. “I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.” Will Smith won the Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, in "King Richard."
Oscar viewers were left stunned after Will Smith walked onto the stage and hit Chris Rock, who was hosting the show. The comedian made a crude joke about Jada Pinkett Smith being in the running for a role in G.I. Jane II, referring to her being bald. Will Smith smacked Rock across the face and walked back to his seat before shouting, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth.”
Minutes later, Will Smith was named Best Actor in the lead category. Will Smith appeared to have abandoned his prepared speech and addressed the incident as well in his speech. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” said Smith during his Oscar-winning speech. I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” he said.
“Now I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse. You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you have to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and pretend that’s OK,” he said. "It’s like I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena Williams and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. That’s what I want to do. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern,” he continued.
He then apologized for the incident without naming Chris Rock. “I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to my fellow nominees,” he said, tearing up. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people … Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said … just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.
The police later confirmed that Chris Rock declined to press charges. The academy said it condemned the violence and would review the incident. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct, and California law,” it said.