Will Smith has shared a formal apology to Chris Rock and watchers across the world after he slapped Chris Rock during a live Oscars broadcast.
Taking to Instagram, Smith’s apology began: “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behaviour 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 continued: “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong.”
Smith said he was “embarrassed” and that his actions were not indicative of “the man I want to be”.
“There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
He then apologised to the Academy, Oscars attendees, everyone who watched the live broadcast across the world and to the Williams family, whom he worked with on his Oscar-winning film, King Richard.
“I deeply regret that my behaviour has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will,” he concluded.
The apology comes after organisers of the Academy Awards announced they will conduct a formal review over the altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock.
In a statement released overnight, the organisation said it “condemns the actions of Mr Smith at last night’s show”.
“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.”
The statement has sparked a bunch of questions around Smith’s conduct, including whether he should have his Best Actor award stripped from his name.
Per CNN, officials from the Academy “strongly considered” removing Smith from the venue when it happened, but they were unable to mobile their decision before he went on to win Best Actor.
Whoopi Goldberg, who is a member of the Academy’s board of governors, spoke about the public altercation on The View, confirming that while Smith’s Oscar won’t be taken from him, there would be “consequences”.
To recap how the shocking event played out, the incident started while Rock was presenting a monologue on the Oscars stage. Like all hosts tend to do, he began making jokes—but for reasons which we’ll never know, his joke turned very personal—and it was directed at a specific person in the audience: Jada Pinkett-Smith.
“Jada, love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock said in an apparent dig at her being bald.
The actor, who has previously talked about suffering from alopecia, was visibly unhappy at his words, but her husband Will Smith acted out in anger. He was seen calling out angrily at Rock from the crowd before he stood up, walked onto the stage and appeared to punch Rock in the face while yelling, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–cking mouth!”
Naturally, the internet exploded with hundreds of confused and shocked watchers replaying the moment and asking the question literally everyone (those at the Dolby Theatre included): Was that for real?
The answer was delivered soon enough.
Smith, who was nominated for Best Actor for his work playing the father of Venus and Serena Williams in the biopic, King Richard, won the award several moments after the altercation. In his acceptance speech, he apologised to the Academy.
Visibly emotional, Smith began: “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment I am overwhelmed by what god is calling on me to do and be in this world.”
He continued to talk about the team of actors he worked with on the film, explaining that part of being in the industry meant having to “take the abuse”.
“You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta have people disrespecting you. You gotta smile and pretend like that’s ok.
“But Richard Williams… what I loved, Denzel [Washinton] said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.'”
Smith, who at this point was visibly crying, then said he wanted to “apologise to the Academy,” presumably in relation to the punch.
“I wanna apologise to the Academy and to all my fellow nominees. This is is a beautiful moment, and I’m not crying for winning an award. Its about being able to shine light on all of the people.”
He finished his speech with a final reference to the unexpected turn of events during the night: “Thank you for this moment and I thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. I hope the Academy invites me back.”
Earlier on, there were other signs the altercation was entirely real. To start, the moment was apparently censored on live crosses internationally. It wasn’t in Australia, but it certainly suggests that producers were trying to remove it from the playback.
Secondly, Rock and Smith have had previous beef—and it was at a previous Oscars. Indeed, at the 2016 ceremony, Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith again, saying: “Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties—I wasn’t invited!”
Another Twitter user also captured the moment Smith was seen yelling at Rock from the audience at today’s ceremony. Look, we know he’s an actor, but this would’ve been a really impressive performance if he was faking it.
Many Twitter users also shared their disgust at Smith’s actions which, as it appeared on-screen, was act of physical assault.
“I love a man who defends his lady but not by assault, esp. not at the Oscars in front of the world. The joke was awful but love isn’t violence Will Smith doesn’t get to call himself an ambassador of love 1 minute & bitch slap someone the next Assault survivors know what I mean,” One tweeted.
Another person wrote: “Dear Will Smith, I am a fan of yours. I can NEVER accept any kind of Violence, even more so, for this historical moment, violence is never lawful and justifiable. You used Violence, probably provoked, but this DOES NOT JUSTIFY your gesture.”