Will Smith is apologizing for slapping Chris Rock on live television during the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night (March 27).
Taking to his Instagram account, the King Richard actor posted a lengthy message apologizing to Rock, the Academy and others, and asserting that his actions were not indicative of his character.
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” he wrote. “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,” Smith continued. “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.”
He ended his note: “I am a work in progress.”
Just before presenting the award for the documentary feature category, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, saying, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Rock’s joke was in reference to Jada’s close-shaved head, a possible result of her recent struggles with the hair condition alopecia.
G.I. Jane was a 1997 starring Demi Moore who played a character that shaved her hair off during a vigorous U.S. Navy program. The popular film tackled sexism in the military.
After the joke, Smith, 53, walked on stage and slapped Rock. He returned to his seat and shouted at the 57-year-old to “keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.” Within the hour, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams in King Richard. During his acceptance speech, Smith did not specifically apologize to Rock. The incident reverberated across every corner of the internet, with many debating whether or not Smith was justified in his retaliation.
The LAPD was made aware of the incident, but Rock had declined to file a police report or press charges. However, the Academy Awards released a statement that they will conduct a “formal review.”