Hollywood star and Academy Award winner for best actor Will Smith apologises to Chris Rock for hitting the comedian during the live broadcast of the glitzy Oscar ceremony.
Actor Will Smith has issued an apology to comedian Chris Rock, the Oscars academy and viewers at home, a day after slapping Rock on the stage of the 94th Academy Awards, saying he was "out of line" and that his actions are "not indicative of the man I want to be."
The fallout of Sunday's show continued on Monday as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith's onstage assault and said it would launch an inquiry into it.
Later in the day, Smith gave a stronger apology than he did in his best actor acceptance speech, which notably didn't include apologising to Rock.
"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," said Smith. "My behaviour 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. I would like to publicly apologise 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 added apologies to the film academy, producers of the telecast, attendees, viewers and the Williams family. Smith was honoured for his role as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena.
"I am a work in progress," added Smith.
Earlier on Monday, the Academy said it launched a "formal review" of the shocking moment when Smith slapped Rock.
"The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show," the Academy said in a statement to the AFP news agency.
"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."
Smith –– who went on to win the best actor award –– marched onto the stage during a show broadcast live around the world and hit Rock over a joke about the star's wife, in an incident that overshadowed the glitzy ceremony.
Celebrities from Tinseltown and beyond reacted with shock and stunned amazement to Smith's outburst, with some defending him and others condemning his "toxic masculinity."
"Keep my wife's name out of your f*****g mouth."— TRT World (@trtworld) March 28, 2022
Actor Will Smith smacked presenter Chris Rock in the face and shouted profanities at the comedian for making a joke about his wife's appearance at the Oscars ceremony pic.twitter.com/VBdE7D8phx
'He could have killed him'
The 94th Academy Awards was in its final hour when actor and comedian Rock made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, starring in "G.I. Jane 2" –– apparently poking fun at her shaved head.
Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, didn't laugh, and her 53-year-old husband stormed onstage, smacking Rock with an open hand before returning to his seat.
The stunned expressions of celebrities in the room –– such as Lupita Nyong'o, who was sitting nearby –– became instant meme fodder, while outside the auditorium stars immediately weighed in to condemn Smith.
"He could have killed him. That's pure out-of-control rage and violence," filmmaker Judd Apatow said in a tweet he later deleted.
"Spinal Tap" director Rob Reiner dismissed Smith's apology, calling for the star to show remorse to Rock personally and adding that the "Fresh Prince" star was "lucky Chris is not filing assault charges."
"Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault... not so much," "Star Wars" icon Mark Hamill chipped in.
The comedy world was quick to rally to Rock's side, complaining that Smith's outburst could spark copycat behaviour, endangering other stand-ups.
Emmy Award-winning Rosie O'Donnell called out a "sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman," while Kathy Griffin added: "Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters."
Booker prize-winning author Bernadine Evaristo suggested that Smith had not just wrecked what should have been his greatest triumph, but had also sullied his legacy.
"Only the fifth black man in nearly 100 years to win an Oscar for the male lead, and the first in 16 years, resort to violence instead of utilising the power of words to slay Chris Rock. Then he claims God and Love made him do it," she said.
In Smith's defence
Some celebrities came to Smith's defence, with singer Nicki Minaj saying that as her husband, Smith was privy to the pain Pinkett Smith endures.
"You just got to witness in real-time what happens in a man's soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a 'little joke' at her expense," she tweeted.
"This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y'all seeing the joke he’s seeing her pain."
Some social media users called for Smith to be stripped of his Oscar, but Academy governor and Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg said that would not happen.
"We're not going to take that Oscar from him," she said on the daytime TV show "The View."
"There will be consequences I'm sure, but I don't think that's what they're going to do, particularly because Chris [Rock] said, 'Listen, I'm not pressing any charges.'"