Will Smith has apologized for slapping comedian Chris Rock in the face during the Oscars on Sunday. Smith said his “behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable” in a Monday night Instagram post.
Smith slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, starring in fictional sequel to the 1997 film “G.I. Jane.” Pinkett Smith, who announced several years ago that she has alopecia — an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss — shaves her head. After returning to his seat, Smith yelled at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of you’re f***ing mouth.”
Roughly 30 minutes later, Smith won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams, who served as executive producers on the film and were in attendance at Sunday’s ceremony. During his acceptance speech, a visibly emotional Smith alluded to the incident, calling Richard Williams a “fierce defender of his family.”
Smith also apologized during that speech, although not directly to Rock.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong,” Smith wrote. “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.”
“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 added.
Smith also apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the award ceremony, and to the attendees, the audience watching and the team behind the film “King Richard,” including the Williams family.
“I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us,” Smith wrote. “I am a work in progress.”
“I want to apologize to the Academy,” Smith said. “I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. 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. Tim and Trevor and Zack and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of ‘King Richard,’ Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams.”
Following the Oscars, the Academy condemned Smith’s actions and said it had “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 was not immediately clear what, if any, punishment Smith might face.
The Academy’s board has the authority to suspend or expel members who violate the code of conduct or who “compromise the integrity” of the academy. Actress Whoopi Goldberg, who serves on the Academy’s Board of Directors, said Monday, “There will be consequences, I’m sure,” but also stated they would not strip Smith of his award.
Rock declined to press charges, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement Sunday night.