Updated Mar 28, 2022 - Technology

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock before emotional acceptance speech

Will Smith appears to slap Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on Sunday. Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Will Smith delivered an emotional speech Sunday while accepting the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars. The acclaimed actor apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees after slapping Chris Rock in the face on stage in the middle of the telecast.

The latest: The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement early Monday it was aware of the incident. "The individual involved has declined to file a police report," the LAPD said, in an apparent reference to Rock.

  • The Academy tweeted early Monday that it "does not condone violence of any form," though it did not name Smith in its statement.

Why it matters: The spontaneous moment startled viewers and nearly upstaged an otherwise smooth Oscars telecast.

Details: While introducing an awards segment, comedian Rock made a joke about the hair of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, calling her "G.I. Jane."

  • Pinkett Smith has opened up publicly about losing her hair.
  • Will Smith ran onto the stage, slapped Rock, and yelled, "Leave my wife’s name out of your f--king mouth."
  • The incident was partially censored for viewers at home in the U.S. but quickly went viral on social media.

Minutes later, while accepting his award, Smith choked back tears as he delivered an emotional speech.

  • Smith was awarded Best Actor in a Leading Role for playing Richard Williams, the father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams, in "King Richard."

What he's saying: "Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said. "In this time and in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world."

  • "I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse and you've got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you've got to be able to have people disrespecting you and you've got to smile and pretend like that's OK."

Zoom in: While Smith apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees for the incident with Rock, but didn't apologize to the comedian directly.

  • "This is a beautiful moment and I'm not crying for winning an award. ... It's about being able to shine light on all of the people," he said, referring to the movie's cast and the Williams family.
  • "Love will make you do crazy things," Smith said toward the end of his speech. "I'm hoping the Academy invites me back."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the Academy and the LAPD.

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