Will Smith has apologized to Chris Rock after the actor assaulted the comedian for making a joke about his wife during Sunday’s Oscars broadcast.
Early Monday evening, Smith issued an apology on his Instagram account calling his behavior “unacceptable.”
“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.”
He continued by extending his apology to the Academy, the show producers and everyone watching the broadcast. “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.”
PEOPLE reported on Monday afternoon that organizers considered removing Smith from the broadcast.
“Behind the scenes there were a lot of people, and different voices and bifurcated opinions, weighing in on what had just happened and what was the best and quickest course of action. People were also checking that Chris Rock was okay,” a source said. “Having Will removed was definitely discussed seriously.”
The Academy said it would conduct a review of its own.
“We have 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,” the Academy said in a statement.
Apple’s CODA might have made Oscars history after becoming the first streaming title to win Best Picture during the broadcast, but the moment that overshadowed that accomplishment came when Smith (who would later go on to win Best Actor) slapped Rock.
As Rock was introducing Best Documentary at the 94th Academy Awards, the funnyman was poking fun at the couples in the audience. At first, the King Richard star laughed when Rock joked about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. “Jada, I love ya. GI Jane 2can’t wait to see ya,” he said referencing the 1997 film G.I. Jane in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head.
Pinkett Smith told Billboard in December she suffered from the autoimmune disorder alopecia, which causes hair loss and balding.
Cameras flashed on Smith, 53, smiling from his seat at Rock’s dig while Pinkett Smith, 50, rolled her eyes and looked visibly unimpressed.
The next thing viewers and people in the audience saw was Smith storming the stage as he proceeded to smack Rock.
“Oh wow! wow! Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me,” Rock said as the audience laughed, thinking it was an act.
But it soon became obvious that it wasn’t a pre-planned gag as Smith raged from his seat. “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth,” he screamed as the crowd inside the Dolby Theater went quiet.
“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” a startled Rock said as he tried to get the night back on track.
During a commercial break, The Hollywood Reporter’s
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2 — Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
The trio have a history following a joke Rock made when he hosted the 2016 Oscars after Pinkett Smith said she would be skipping the ceremony because her husband failed to land a nomination for his leading role in the football drama Concussion. It was the second year in a row where all 20 acting nominees were white.
“My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize (Theron). We’ve discussed it. We’re part of this community. But at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say this is OK,” Smith told Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts at the time.
But Rock decided to use their absence as a punchline.
“Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘Isn’t she on a TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!” he joked. He then took aim at her husband.
“Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it. You get mad. It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right,” he said. “It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.”
When the Girls Trip star was asked about the jokes, she seemed to shrug off the dig, saying, “it comes with the territory.”
rock’s G.I. Jane quip wasn’t the only wisecrack made about the couple on Sunday night. During a skit when co-host Regina Hall rounded up the single men onstage, she made a reference to the couple’s purported marriage troubles. “You’re married, but you know what? You’re on the list,” she said. “It looks like Jada approved you, so you get on up here!”
In his recently released memoir, Will, Smith wrote about a temporary breakup between the couple, who were married in 1997 and share two children. “Our marriage wasn’t working,” he admitted candidly. “We could no longer pretend. We were both miserable and clearly something had to change.”
Rumors of cheating and affairs have swirled around the pair for years and in 2020 singer August Alsina claimed that he and Pinkett Smith had an affair in 2016. The couple later addressed the affair on an episode of Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talkwith Jada admitting the dalliance happened when they were on a break.
“One of the things I want to clear up that was kind of swirling in the press was you giving permission, which the only person who can give permission in that particular circumstance is myself,” she said.
Earlier this month, Smith said the couple has never been unfaithful to one another.
“There’s never been infidelity in our marriage,” he told Gayle King on CBS Sunday Morning. “Jada and I talk about everything, and we have never surprised one another with anything ever.”
Later in the broadcast, when Smith was named the night’s Best Actor winner for playing Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richardhe alluded to the Williams patriarch’s fiery personality as a reason for his outburst.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said during his speech in which he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees — but not Rock. “I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things.”
He added that Washington had told him earlier in the night, “At your highest moment, be careful — that’s when the devil comes for you.”
Following the altercation, Los Angeles police said that they would not open a criminal case against Smith after Rock declined to press charges.
With many on social media questioning why Smith was allowed to remain in the audience after the altercation, the Academy issued a terse response. “The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the organization tweeted. “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.”
Earlier in the day, rapper Diddy confirmed the beef was over.
“That’s not a problem. That’s over. I can confirm that,” Diddy told Page Six. “It’s all love. They’re brothers.”
After the show, Smith attended the Vanity Fair party with his family and was seen dancing to his hit songs Summer time, Miami and Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.