Will Smith apologized to the Academy and fellow nominees in a tear-filled speech.
Will Smith apologized to the Academy and fellow nominees in a tear-filled speech accepting the Oscar for best actor for his role as Richard Williams in the biopic “King Richard.”
Smith’s win came after a tense and shocking onstage altercation with presenter Chris Rock. Smith stunned audiences by walking onto the Oscars stage and seemingly struck Rock after the comedian cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.
In his acceptance speech, Smith, who played the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, referenced the confrontation without mentioning Rock directly.
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,” Smith said, emphasizing that, like Richard Williams, he “protects” the ones he loves.
“I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” Smith continued.
“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. “But love will make you do crazy things.”
The line was seemingly in reference to the night’s earlier altercation, stemming from Rock’s joke about Pinkett-Smith.
Rock, who was presenting the award for best documentary feature, joked about Jada Pinkett-Smith starring in “G.I. Jane 2” because of her shaved head. Pinkett-Smith has been outspoken about her struggle with alopecia.
“Javier Bardem and his wife are both nominated,” Rock said. “Now, if she loses, he can’t win. He is praying that Will Smith wins, like, please lord, Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, alright?”
That’s when Smith walked onto the stage and appeared to slap Rock, leaving many across social media to question if the moment was rehearsed or a genuine reaction from Smith.
While presenting later in the night, Sean “Diddy” Combs mentioned the moment, stating “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family … but right now we’re moving on with love.”
The night also marked Smith’s first Oscar win. He was previously nominated for best actor for roles in “Ali” in 2001 and “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2006.“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,” said Smith.