Will Smith has publicly apologized to Comedian Chris Rock after he slapped him on live television at the Oscars, saying his behavior was “unacceptable and inexcusable”.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he said in a statement. “I was out of line and I was wrong.”
This comes after the Academy condemned the actor over the incident and announced a formal review.
Will Smith slapped Chris on stage after the comic made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Chris had taken aim at Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, a result of the hair-loss condition alopecia.
Shortly after, Smith picked up the first Oscar of his career for playing the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams in King Richard.
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith stated
“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.”
The actor apologized directly to Chris, stating he was “out of line”. He also apologized to the Academy and the Williams family.
“I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us,” he wrote.
Prior to Smith’s apology, the organization behind the Oscars said in a statement that it “condemns the actions” of Smith.
“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,” it said.
Rock’s joke referred to the 1997 film GI Jane, in which Demi Moore played the title role with a severe buzzcut.
Jada Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes at the comment, while Smith appeared to initially laugh and clap his hands before he was seen on stage, walking up to Rock.
The comedian looked stunned in the immediate aftermath of the incident, but told the audience: “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”
The Los Angeles Police Department later told Variety that Rock had “declined to file a police report” following the event.
After the incident, Rock handed over the best documentary prize, which was the reason he was on stage.
He is yet to publicly comment further on what happened.
Accepting the Oscar for best actor for King Richard soon after, Smith said Richard Williams was a “fierce defender of his family” and that he himself was “being called on” in his life “to love people and to protect people”.
“Art imitates life,” he said. “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
He ended it saying he hoped the Academy would invite him back.