During Sunday’s event (March 27), Smith interrupted a monologue of Rock’s after the latter joked about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, being bald (the Matrix actress has been open in the past about suffering with alopecia). Smith walked up to the stage and slapped Rock, then after returning to his seat, yelled at the presenting comedian: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Later in the evening, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor In A Leading Role, taking home the trophy for his work in King Richard. During his acceptance speech, Smith spoke about his endeavours to protect his family and “be a river to my people” – as well as being defended by Denzel Washington – and apologised to the Academy and his “fellow nominees” through tears.
He did not apologise to Rock. However, Sean “Diddy” Combs later said that the pair settled their feud after the event finished. In a subsequent response to the incident, The Academy condemned Smith’s conduct, saying it had “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”.
Smith has now shared a public statement of his own, conceding that the way he acted at the ceremony “was unacceptable and inexcusable”. The actor noted that he finds jokes aimed at himself to be “a part of the job”, but was offended by Rock’s jab at Jada’s medical condition, admitting that it “was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally”.
Addressing Rock directly, he continued: “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. 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.”
Smith also reiterated his apology to The Academy, as well as “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.”
The LAPD has confirmed that Rock is not pressing charges at present, with a statement reading: “The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
Since the incident, Smith’s son Jaden has reacted on social media, while a number of celebrities have weighed in on the altercation.
Meanwhile, CODA was the biggest winners of this year’s Oscars, taking home three awards including Best Picture, while Dune won the most awards overall. The film’s star Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar. West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose also made history when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first openly queer woman of colour to win one.
Catch up with all the winners here.