HOLLYWOOD (Fwrd Axis) — In one of the most shocking moments in Oscars history, Will Smith took home the Academy Award on Sunday for his role in King Richard but it’s his actions prior to winning that has caused an uproar.
Smith hit comedian Chris Rock for a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock was presenting the award for best documentary feature, said that he was excited to watch Pinkett Smith in “G.I. Jane 2″, a 1997 movie starring Demi Moore as a woman who joins the Navy and shaves her head during her military service.
Pinkett Smith has been open in the past about suffering from alopecia.
“Jada, I love ya,” Rock said. “G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it. Alright?”
Smith laughed but looked uncomfortable while Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes and stared at Rock. Smith then got up from his seat and smacked the comedian in the mouth. The U.S. broadcast censored the next moment but live streams overseas picked up the moment as it happened.
“Wow, wow … Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,” a surprised Rock said.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” Smith screamed when he returned to his seat.
Rock looked visibly shaken by the moment and paused before saying, “That was the greatest night in the history of television”. He then continued with his presenter bit. A live feed of the commercial break showed actors Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry comforting Smith, who wiped tears from his eyes as he sat back down with Pinkett-Smith.
Then, in a rather stunning moment, Smith won his first Oscar for his role in King Richard. There was speculation the moment was staged but Smith erased speculation when he used his speech to apologize for his actions but declined to apologize to Rock directly.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said. “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. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses who play Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people. And to protect people and to be a river to my people.”
Smith continued: “I know, to do what we do, we 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 pretend like that’s OK. … Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ’At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.’ I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say ‘thank you’ to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for trusting me with your story. …. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care. 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 a lot on all the people… and the entire cast and crew of King Richard and Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family. 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 Academy put out a statement early Monday morning, saying it does not condone violence but did not address Smith by name.
“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the statement said. “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.”
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
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.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement early Monday Rock declined to file a police report and they are aware of the incident.
“The individual involved has declined to file a police report,” the statement read.