Will Smith has finally spoken out about “The Slap.” At 7:17 p.m. ET Monday night, he posted a statement on Instagram, which included an apology to Chris Rock, something which he neglected to do during his lengthy Best Actor acceptance speech at the Academy Awards Sunday.
“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior 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 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.
I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.
I am a work in progress.
The defining moment of the 94th Academy Awards came when Rock, presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, starring in “G.I. Jane 2,” as the actress struggles with hair loss. Smith walked up on stage and slapped Rock in the face before yelling, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Rock’s initial reaction instantly became one of the most iconic Oscars quotes of all time when the comedian said, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” When Smith returned to his seat, Rock expressed dismay that “a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke” prompted that much anger from the soon-to-be Oscar winner.
Smith’s statement comes as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences conducts a formal review of his conduct, with consequences including expulsion from the Academy on the table.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the Academy wrote in a statement Monday. “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.”
This was not the first time Chris Rock has poked fun at the celebrity couple during the Oscars. When he hosted the ceremony in 2016, Rock joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s threats to boycott the show over her husband not being nominated for his role in “Concussion.”
“Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties,” Rock said. “I wasn’t invited.”
He continued to joke at their expense throughout his monologue. “Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for ‘Concussion.’ I get it. It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for ‘Wild Wild West,'” he said, making a joke about Smith’s infamous box office flop from 1999.
After the ceremony, the LAPD released a statement saying that Rock declined to press charges against Smith.