Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock after hitting him
He became a household name as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but at the 2022 Oscars he took violent steps in response to a cruel joke to rewrite his legacy.
It was supposed to be a celebration of the best that humans have brought to the movie world but as well as the 2022 Oscars being handed out to their talented new owners, we also saw an uglier side of human nature.
Ahead of winning his own Best Actor statuette for his incredible performance in King Richard, Will Smith took to the stage to slap Chris Rock in the face. after the comedian made a joke targeting Jada Pinkett Smith's medical condition. Some people have defended the assault, claiming that Smith was standing up for his wife's honor. Others have condemned it, calling for violence never to be the solution, especially to a joke. NFL host Stephen A Smith called it out as "bullshit".
Has Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock?
Although an apology was made during his acceptance speech for Best Actor (see below), this did not reference the victim of his slap. Around 24 hours later, however, a public apology to Rock, via social media, was made, in which he stated he was out of line and wrong.
'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.
'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'
Could Will Smith lose Oscar or be charged?
Earlier question marks had been raised over whether or not Smith could be in trouble with the Los Angeles Police Department but these were quickly pushed away when it was reported that Rock has not pressing charges. That, however, does not rule out prosecutors reviewing the evidence (of which there is clearly an abundance) and deciding to file charges. There is no requirement in California for a victim to file a police complaint for prosecutors to take action against a suspected assailant.
Other concerns were discussed about the potential for the actor having the Oscar - his career first - taken away from him, linking it to the Academy's code of ethics.
So to his post-slap reaction. There was footage shared on social media of the actor being consoled and supported during the commercial break of the Oscars but Smith was back on stage shortly after to collect the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard. In an emotional acceptance speech he apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees, although this apology was not directed towards Chris Rock.
Will Smith's Best Actor winning speech including first apology
"I know that to do what we do we have to be able to take abuse, take people talking crazy about you. Have people disrespecting you. Got to smile and pretend that's ok. But Richard Williams, what I love.. Denzel [Washington] said to me just a few minutes ago. 'Be careful because at your highest moment that's when the devil comes for you.'
"I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say thank yo to Venus and Serena I want to say thank you to the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. I want to be an ambassador for that kind of love and care and concern.
"I want to apologize to the academy 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 shining a light on... the entire cast, Serena, Venus and the entire family.
"Art imitated life, I look the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.
“To my mother, a lot is complicated for me at the moment, to my mother. She wasn’t able to come out. She’s with her knitting crew. Being able to love and care for my mother and my wife. Thank you for this honour, thank you for this moment. Thank you to Richard and the Williams family. And I hope the academy invites me back.”