Los Angeles: Hollywood star Will Smith left the audience shocked when he hit Chris Rock in the face on stage at the Oscars after the comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith on Sunday. But then, when he went onto the stage for the second time, this time to receive the Best Actor for King Richard, he was calmer.
He apologized to the Academy and the other nominees for slapping Chris Rock. After accepting the award tearfully for his role as Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams, in the film King Richard, Will Smith said, “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family.”
The incident started when Chris referred to Pinkett Smith’s shaved hairdo and said: “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2.”
Smith walked up on the stage and appeared to hit the comedian on his face.
In a video, which is going viral on social media, Chris is seen walking up to the stage to present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. He cracked a joke about the look of actress Pinkett Smith’s shaved hair.
Following this, Smith went to the stage and hit Chris on the face. Smith returned to his seat and screamed from the audience, and said, “Keep my wife’s name out of your… mouth.”
After the fiasco, Chris said, “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”
Later, Will Smith apologized during his best actor acceptance speech for the movie King Richard. “I want to apologize to the Academy. 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 light on all of the people.”
He further said, “Smith continued, “To do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you, and you gotta smile, and you gotta pretend like that’s OK.”
“I hope the Academy invites me back,” Smith added with a laugh as he ended his speech.
The Academy also responded to the episode. “The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the Academy wrote in a tweet. However, they followed it up with quite vague and unrelated words: “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”