Best actor nominee Will Smith appeared to slap presenter Chris Rock in the face with an open hand and shouted a vulgarity at the comedian for making a joke about his wife’s appearance at the Oscars ceremony.
Rock made a joke about the hairstyle of Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith that referenced the movie GI Jane in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. Pinkett Smith suffers from the hair loss condition, alopecia. Smith, who later won best actor for ‘King Richard,’ walked on stage and hit Chris Rock in what at first appeared to be a scripted joke. But the mood turned somber moments later when Smith, back in his seat, shouted back, ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth’
During the commercial break, a visibly-emotional Smith was comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry.
Half an hour later, Smith again took the stage to accept the award for Best Actor, his first Oscar win. Smith starred in King Richard as the father of tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams. During his acceptance speech, he paid tribute to Richard Williams, a “fierce defender of his family.” Through tears, Smith said, “Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, that’s when the devil comes for you.’ I want to be a vessel for love.” He then apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, and said “This is a beautiful moment.” He added, “Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.”
The day after slapping Chris Rock on the Oscars stage, Smith issued an apology to the comedian, to the academy and to viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”
Sources: the Guardian, Will Smith’s Instagram Page