Will Smith is publicly apologizing to comedian Chris Rock after hitting him at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, just before winning an Academy Award for his role in “King Richard.”
Rock had been onstage to present the award for best documentary and made fun of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, by saying, “Jada, love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.”
Pinkett Smith — who has been open about having alopecia and hair loss for years — rolled her eyes at the joke. Smith, however, got onstage, walked toward Rock, and hit the comedian in the face.
He then appeared to yell an obscenity at Rock while telling him to “keep my wife’s name out of your mouth," though the incident was bleeped by censors on American television.
In a long statement published on Monday night, Smith apologized for the incident.
"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. 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," he wrote. "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."
Smith apologized again to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as the producers of the show, the attendees and everyone watching.
"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 concluded. "I am a work in progress."
Forty minutes after the incident on Sunday night, Smith won best actor for playing Richard Williams in “King Richard,” the film about the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.
In his victory speech, Smith didn't apologize to Rock or reference him specifically. He did apologize to the academy and to his fellow nominees.
"Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams," he said, in part. "But love will make you do crazy things."
Rock declined to file a police report regarding the incident, Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. Later, the academy released a statement saying it “does not condone violence of any form.”
By Monday evening, Richard Williams had also spoken out on the incident.
“We don’t know all the details of what happened,” Richard Williams, via his son Chavoita LeSane, told NBC News. “But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”