Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock for beating him at the 2022 Oscars: ‘I was out of line and I was wrong’

LOS ANGELES – The day after he saw Chris Rock on stage at 94 indicative of the man I want to be.”

The aftermath of Sunday’s show continued on Monday, as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith’s onstage attack and said it would launch an investigation into it. Later in the day, Smith apologized more strongly than he did in his best actor acceptance speech, which notably included no apology to Rock.

“Violence in all its forms is toxic and destructive,” Smith said. “My behavior at the Oscars last night was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s health was too much for me and I reacted emotionally. I want to apologize publicly for that, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I’m 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 to the film academy, the television show’s producers, contestants, viewers and the Williams family. Smith was honored for his role as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena.

“I’m still in the works,” Smith added.

WATCH: Will Smith’s shocking stage confrontation with Chris Rock

Earlier Monday, the Film Academy said: “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr Smith at last night’s show. We have officially initiated a formal investigation into the incident and will review further actions and consequences consistent with our statutes, standards of conduct and California law.”

The fallout from Smith’s onstage assault continued Monday as Hollywood and the public continued to grapple with a moment that stunned Dolby Theater audiences and viewers at home, and possibly everyone else – even the gold standard blunder EnvelopeGate – at surpassed the Academy Awards shame.

Smith shocked audiences at the Dolby Theater and those at home when he took the stage during Rock’s remarks after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith’s wife. Rock said, “Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2’ can’t wait to see it.”

The joke hit a nerve. Pinkett Smith, whose head is shaved, has spoken publicly about her alopecia diagnosis. Smith strode onto the stage and slapped Rock in the face. Back in his seat, Smith called Rock twice to “get my wife’s name out of your (eloquent) mouth.” His words echoed clearly throughout Dolby, although broadcaster ABC paused the audio for about 15 seconds. Within an hour, Smith won Best Actor. During his acceptance speech, Smith apologized to the Academy.

WATCH: Will Smith’s full acceptance speech

After Sunday night’s show, the academy released a statement condemning violence. The Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday it was aware of the incident but had not opened an investigation because the person involved declined to file a police report.

Some Academy members, such as writer and producer Marshall Herskovitz, called on the Academy to take disciplinary action against Smith.

“He disgraced our entire community tonight,” Herskovitz wrote on Twitter.

Academy board member Whoopi Goldberg told The View on Monday, “We’re not going to take that Oscar away from him. That will have consequences, I’m sure of that.”

The Screen Actors Guild also got involved. The film, television and radio union called the incident “unacceptable” and said “violence or physical abuse in the workplace is never acceptable.” The SAG said it had been in contact with the Academy and ABC and not its own Express guild disciplinary proceedings.

A sense of disbelief hung in the air at the Dolby Theater after Smith’s attack that didn’t shake on Monday. Not only was it an elusive breach of decorum on live national television — an incident so dramatic, even cinematic, that many initially thought it was a staged part — it seemed wholly uncharacteristic for one of Hollywood’s most unrelentingly cheerful stars .

MORE: Chris Rock won’t press charges against Will Smith over Oscar slap, LAPD says

All of this less than an hour before Smith possibly reached the peak of his career and won his first Best Actor Oscar.

“In a way, I also feel sorry for Will Smith because I think he let his emotions get the better of him and this should have been one of the greatest nights of his life,” former Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel said on the Bill Simmons Podcast. “And now it’s not anymore. An hour ago, was there anyone in the world who didn’t like Will Smith?

Some questioned whether Smith should have continued sitting front and center after hitting Rock. Several stars rushed to offer advice and reassurance to Smith, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry. But the timing was also awkward because the best actor category was due soon after, and Smith had long considered a ban on the award.

“I know we’re all still in this, but the way occasional violence was normalized by a collective national audience tonight will have consequences we can’t even fathom right now,” wrote Janai Nelson, President and Director-Advisor to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Twitter.

The joke that provoked Smith wasn’t part of Rock’s routine during pre-show rehearsals, according to two sources close to the production who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Rock had joked about Pinkett Smith before. He was hosting the 2016 Oscars when some boycotted the ceremony because of the #OscarsSoWhite group of nominees, including the Smiths. Rock said, “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”

The drama overshadowed some historic wins at an Academy Awards. The deaf family drama “CODA” was the first film with largely deaf actors to win the award for best film. For the first time, a streaming service, Apple TV+, received Hollywood’s highest honor, signaling a sea change in Hollywood and in cinema-going. West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina and first openly LGBTQ actress to win Best Supporting Actress.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Will Smith apologizes to Chris Rock for beating him at the 2022 Oscars: ‘I was out of line and I was wrong’

Dais Johnston

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