'I was out of line': Will Smith apologises to Chris Rock for 'embarrassing' Oscars slap

29 March 2022, 00:08 | Updated: 29 March 2022, 05:43

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith
Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Will Smith has apologised to Chris Rock for slapping him at the Oscars after organisers condemned it, admitting he was "out of line and wrong".

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Smith, who won Best Actor for his role in King Richard, struck Rock after the comedian made a joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair loss.

Senior figures at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are said to have called for him to be stripped of his award, reportedly entering "crisis mode" as their prestigious movie ceremony was thrown into turmoil.

Smith wrote on his Instagram page: "Violence in all 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.

"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.

"I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

"I am a work in progress."

His statement followed the Academy's, which said: "The Academy 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."

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Smith walked onto stage and struck Rock, who was on stage at the Los Angeles show, as he made a comment about Ms Pinkett Smith's alopecia.

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air star appeared to laugh at the jibe before making his way on stage.

He was seen shouting "Keep my wife's name out of your f****** mouth", visibly and audibly furious, after the incident.

Rock appeared flustered, but later declined to file a report with the Los Angeles Police Department.

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During the ceremony, Smith said he wanted to "apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees" and that he hoped he was invited back to the Oscars. Notably, he did not apologise to Rock at the time.

He won the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard, a film about Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

"Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things," Smith said.

He added: "I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.

"I know to do what we do you've got to be able to take abuse, you've got to be able to have people talk crazy about you in this business.

"You've got to be able have people disrespecting you and you've got to smile and pretend like that's OK."

Former Oscars host Whoopi Goldberg said Smith had "made a mistake" while comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish said it was "the most beautiful thing I've ever seen".