Will Smith apologized to the Academy in his emotional acceptance speech after winning Best Actor at the Oscars on Sunday night, but many viewers caught that the King Richard star didn’t apologize to Chris Rock. Just a few moments prior to accepting the award, the actor slapped the comedian on live television for making a joke about his wife.
Celebrities, Academy members, and audiences at home were shocked by Will Smith‘s actions, with many even questioning if the event was real or staged. The slap heard around the world seemed to be 100% authentic, however, and the world has a lot to say about the incident.
Immediately following the event, opinions flew in on social media, questioning whether Will Smith was right to be angry at Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s appearance, whether Will Smith was wrong to be violent, and whether the actor should apologize to Chris Rock.
Some critics on Twitter even stated that the whole messy affair was a distraction from the war happening in Ukraine, which they believed should be the focus of all our attention.
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people,” Will Smith said as he accepted his award for Best Actor. “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
Comparing himself to Serena and Venus Williams’ father in King Richard, he stated that “love will make you do crazy things.”
Rami Malek, who had been a presenter earlier in the evening, reportedly wagered $20 with members backstage that Will Smith would not apologize.
Denzel Washington, who pulled the actor aside, reportedly told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
While other celebrities like Bradley Cooper comforted Will Smith, trying to calm him down and offer him advice following the heated exchange, many Academy members considered censuring the star.
“He should have stood up and said, ‘I have some issues with Chris Rock which I will discuss with him,’ and apologize to the room and then accept his Oscar and get off,” one Academy member told The Wrap reporters. Another unnamed attendee called Chris Rock’s comment on stage just “a gentle joke.”
The comedian poked fun at Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness during the broadcast, which prompted the violent response from Will Smith after his wife rolled her eyes. Many pointed out that the actress suffers from alopecia, which she went public about back in 2018.
Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith stated after that Will Smith “stained the greatest moment of his career,” while Jaden Smith, the actor’s son, wrote “And That’s How We Do It” on Twitter in support of standing up for his family.
Other celebrities, such as LaKieth Stanfield, kept it cordial for reporters backstage and simply stated “I don’t know, it was crazy.”
Discussing the event on The View Monday morning, host Joy Behar said that Will and his wife should have simply walked out of the theater. Sunny Hostin agreed that his actions were “immature” and “childish.”
“I was embarrassed for Will, I was horrified for Chris Rock,” Sunny Hostin said. “I mean, Will apologized to the Academy, and he apologized to his colleagues and the other nominees, but he didn’t apologize to Chris Rock. And I thought Chris was the one who deserved an apology, for taking the high road.”
Guest host Ana Navarro added that Chris Rock’s joke was “in very poor taste,” but that it didn’t merit a violent response from the King Richard star. Whoopi Goldberg also said she believes Will Smith “overreacted.”
Stepping back from the incident, some celebrities were able to see both sides of the event and call for Will Smith and Chris Rock to work it out backstage.
“Violence isn’t ok. Assault is never the answer,” actress Sophia Bush wrote on Twitter. “Also? This is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the Oscars stage, and tonight he went after her alopecia. Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather.”
Thankfully, according to rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, it appears that he personally saw to it that the two reconcile backstage.
“That’s over. I can confirm that,” Diddy told Page Six Monday morning. “It’s all love. They’re brothers.”