Oscar winner Will Smith has formally apologized in an Instagram post to comedian Chris Rock for slapping him onstage at Sunday night's Oscars.
"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," Smith wrote on Instagram.
"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," he added.
"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," Smith concluded the lengthy Instagram post, adding: "I am a work in progress."
The Academy on Monday has also now publicly stated that they're conducting a formal investigation into the televised incident that happened Sunday night.
Sources speaking to Screen Rant revealed that the Academy leadership "strongly considered removing" Smith from the program's broadcast.
While there were immediate discussions, Academy decision-makers reportedly couldn't come to a decision in enough time before the actor's Oscars win.
This is a more specific response than the earlier statement from The Academy emphasizing that they do "not condone violence of any form."
This latest update from Variety has The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences going a set further. The group is launching its own formal inquiry into what happened. "The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. 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," a spokesperson for the organization said.
TMZ adds that The Academy routinely holds a "post-Oscars meeting" regardless. The Will Smith situation puts more on the agenda for them, this go-around.
In the aftermath of the viral incident, actors like Bradley Cooper, Tyler Perry, and Denzel Washington appeared to console Smith during the commercial break.
"At your highest moment, be careful. That's when the devil comes for you," Washington told Smith following the eyebrow-raising outburst.
It was roughly 40 minutes after the incident that Smith won the Best Actor award for his performance in King Richard, the story of the father of Venus and Serena Williams. During his acceptance speech, the actor apologized to his family and other nominees for what he chalked up as "love will make you do crazy things."
The real Richard Williams whom Smith played on the big screen disavowed the incident. "We don't know all the details of what happened. But we don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense," his son told NBC.
The SAG-AFTRA actors union came out with a statement of their own:
"Violence or physical abuse in the workplace is never appropriate and the union condemns any such conduct. The incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable. We have been in contact with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC about this incident, and will work to ensure this behavior is appropriately addressed."
What caused Smith to go up on stage in the first place was an unrehearsed joke by Rock that quipped about Jada Pinkett-Smith's bald head. While she suffers from alopecia, Rock joked: "Jada, I love you, GI Jane 2, can't wait to see it."
"Keep my wife's name out of your f*cking mouth," Smith shouted moments later, angrily, after slapping a shocked Rock on stage in front of the live audience.
The Los Angeles Police Department has since said that Rock declined to press charges over the incident. After the awards show, Smith was seen celebrating his win and interacting with other guests at the celebrity afterparty.
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