Will Smith issued a public apology to Chris Rock Monday night following mounting backlash after the King Richard actor slapped the Oscar presenter on the face.
Academy members, celebrity critics, and audiences at home quickly took to social media to demand Smith offer a public apology to Chris Rock for walking up on stage and hitting the comedian. Though Chris Rock told an offensive joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, the overwhelming sentiment was that there’s never an excuse for violence.
After Will Smith struck Chris Rock on stage, the Academy announced that it would launch “an inquiry” into the incident and condemned both the violence and the fact that he cursed during the live television broadcast. When Will Smith accepted his award for King Richard, he issued an apology to the Academy, but many media pundits and Academy members felt it was totally insufficient.
Forced to issue another apology, Will Smith wrote in a lengthy Instagram post that “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive” and that his “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,” Will Smith said. “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,” he continued. “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.”
But let’s be honest. Will Smith is far from the only celeb who’s made a public mistake.
Below we round up five of the most memorable celeb apologies.
We all know that Kanye West had a long feud with Taylor Swift after interrupting her on an award show stage. Then, years later, he issued an apology to his then-wife, Kim Kardashian, for discussing a personal conversation about her pregnancy in public.
“I would like to apologize to my wife Kim for going public with something that was a private matter,” he wrote on Twitter. “To Kim I want to say I know I hurt you. Please forgive me. Thank you for always being there for me.”
Several allegations from former employees accused the daytime television host of creating a toxic work environment, including claims of sexual misconduct against multiple top-level producers. In response, three lead producers were fired, and Ellen DeGeneres was forced to issue an apology before announcing that her show would be coming to an end in May 2022.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who are affected,” she said when her final season premiere aired. “I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility. And I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
Back in 2006, actor Mel Gibson was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. It was later revealed that he yelled antisemitic rhetoric at police. “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” he allegedly screamed, severely damaging his career.
“I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge,” he said in an apology issued the following day. “I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility.”
Professional golfer Tiger Woods damaged his reputation in the media for years after it was revealed that he cheated on his wife in several extramarital affairs. It would take him close to a decade to make up his wrongs to his family and to the public, when he was honored at the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2022.
“I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame,” he said back in 2010. “I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect.”
After an on-stage wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl, singer Justin Timberlake was forced to issue an apology to Janet Jackson after ripping her outfit and exposing her breast to millions of viewers. Issuing a non-apology at the time, Justin stated that, “What occurred was unintentional and completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended.”
Justin Timberlake would go on to be invited to the Super Bowl once more, while Janet was bizarrely banned from returning instead. It wasn’t until 2021 that Justin finally issued a real apology to Janet following new backlash due to the Framing Britney Spears documentary. “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually,” he wrote on Instagram, “because I care and respect these women and I know I failed.”