Will Smith Defends Slapping Chris Rock at Oscars in Acceptance Speech

by Leanne Stahulak
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During his acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Will Smith defends slapping Oscars presenter Chris Rock earlier that night.

Partway through the show, comedian Chris Rock presented the award for best documentary. Leading up to the reading of the nominees, Rock made jokes about various audience members, including Pinkett Smith. He commented, “Jada, I love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” in reference to her bald head.

Pinkett Smith, unfortunately, suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss. Will Smith stormed up on stage after the comment, slapping Chris Rock across the face. The broadcast audio cut out for several seconds in the US, but you can still clearly see Smith’s lips as he says, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth!”

Rock, only slightly fazed, moved forward with the awards ceremony and awarded the best documentary to Questlove for “Summer of Soul.” A few awards later, Smith came back up on stage to accept the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He won for his role in “King Richard,” a film about Venus and Serena Williams’ father.

According to The Sun, during his acceptance speech, Will Smith did not apologize to Chris Rock for slapping him. Smith did apologize to the Academy and nominees, but not Rock himself. In fact, Smith defended his actions at one point.

“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all of my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award,” Smith said. “It’s not about winning an award for me; it’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people.”

He later added that he wants to be “a vessel for love.” But Smith’s true defense came when he said, “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”

Implying that Smith’s love for Pinkett Smith caused him to smack Rock on national television. To lighten up the moment, Smith concluded his speech by saying, “I hope the Academy invites me back. Thank you.”

See the full speech below.

Chris Rock Chooses Not to Charge Will Smith for Slapping Him at Oscars

Earlier, many people wondered whether Will Smith slapping Chris Rock was a joke or a bit meant to entertain audiences. But it quickly became apparent that Smith was deadly serious and not laughing at Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.

According to The Sun, a source told the outlet, “Someone who works for the Oscars told me that Chris Rock was not interrupted by Will Smith at rehearsals yesterday. It was not supposed to happen. It was real.”

It’s unclear if Rock made the same joke about Pinkett Smith during rehearsals that he did at the Oscars. If you watch a video of the slap, you can see that Pinkett Smith looks uncomfortable after the comment. Perhaps his wife’s reaction caused Smith to react the way he did, if she didn’t know about the joke ahead of time.

But Smith still hit somebody on a live broadcast. While some expected Smith to be escorted out of the show, he remained and accepted his award for Best Actor. CNN reports that Rock ultimately decided not to press charges for Smith’s attack.

“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the department told CNN. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

See for yourself below.

Outsider.com