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Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock for Oscar night slap

Chris Rock and Will Smith onstage at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday
Chris Rock, left, and Will Smith onstage at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)
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Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock on Monday, less than 24 hours after slapping the comedian for telling an ill-conceived joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, during the 94th Academy Awards telecast — an altercation viewed around the world.

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith said in a post on his Instagram account. “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.”

On Sunday night, Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but he stopped short of apologizing to Rock, who joked about Pinkett Smith’s closely shaved head. In the joke, Rock said: “Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” drawing a comparison to the 1997 action film where Demi Moore plays a military member with a shaved head.

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Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with alopecia, a medical condition that causes hair loss and that often affects Black women.

Everything we know about the infamous moment at the 2022 Oscars, from the history leading up to the onstage shocker to today’s latest developments.

April 8, 2022

Her husband strode to the stage of the Dolby Theatre and slapped Rock, who stepped back, collected himself and told the crowd gathered in the auditorium and millions of ABC viewers watching at home: “Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me.”

People close to the production said Monday that Rock hadn’t practiced the joke in rehearsals, nor was the joke on the teleprompter during the Oscars. On Monday, in the wake of the altercation, the motion picture academy faced calls to punish Smith, who went on later to win the lead actor prize for his performance in “King Richard,” about Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.

“Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith 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.”

On Monday, academy leaders held an emergency meeting to discuss the unprecedented outburst during what was intended to be a morale-boosting celebration of movies for a beleaguered film industry.

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“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the organization said in a statement. “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.”

In his statement, Smith expressed sorrow that the incident overshadowed what should have been a triumphant night.

“I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world,” Smith wrote in the post. “I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

“I am a work in progress,” he concluded.

Staff writer Josh Rottenberg contributed to this report.

Just moments after slapping presenter Chris Rock hard on live television, Will Smith found himself in tears as he gave his acceptance speech for winning the Oscar for best actor for his performance in “King Richard.”

March 27, 2022

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