Oscars 2022: Will Smith apologizes to Academy in acceptance speech after Chris Rock confrontation
Will Smith's win came after an onstage altercation with presenter Chris Rock.
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 or apologizing to 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.”
Smith was then shown in the crowd laughing at Combs’ comments.
After the ceremony, Smith commented on his own Instagram post -- a video of him and Pinkett Smith getting ready for the Oscars -- writing, "You can’t invite people from Philly or Baltimore nowhere!!”
Smith was born in Philadelphia, while Pinkett Smith is from Baltimore.
The Los Angeles Police Department told ABC News it's aware of the incident, but no police report has been filed.
"LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. 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," the LAPD said in a statement to ABC News.
"The Academy does not condone violence of any form," the organization said on Twitter early Monday. "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 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.
Will Packer, the show's producer, shared a tweet that appeared to reference the incident. "Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring #Oscars," he wrote.
One user then responded, "Making jokes about an assault that happened during your show isn’t the congratulatory message you think it is," which Packer then responded to in a follow-up post, sharing more on his feelings about the confrontation.
"Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it," he responded. "I don’t feel the need to elucidate that for you. But I also don’t mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels."
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