In a tearful acceptance speech after the Academy Awards for Best Actor, Smith also apologized to his fellow nominees.
Will Smith used his acceptance speech for the Best Actor award to apologize to the Academy and his fellow nominees after punching Chris Rock on stage during the 2022 Oscars.
The shocking incident occurred after the comedian, who was presenting the award for best documentary, made a joke about Smith’s wife and fellow actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, I can’t wait to see you,” he quipped, alluding to the actress’ shaved head.
Pinkett Smith – who announced last year that she had shaved her head after struggling with alopecia – was seen in the audience with her husband, where she rolled her eyes at the joke.
Smith was seen walking onstage and punching Rock before walking away and yelling at the comedian to “keep [my] wife’s name out of your f**king mouth.
“Richard Williams was a passionate advocate for his family,” a tearful Smith began his speech. “At this time in my life, at this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is asking me to do and to be in this world.
“When I was making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the strongest and most tender people I have ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses who played Venus and Serena. I am called in my life to love and protect people and be a river for my people.”
He continued, “I know to do what we do, you have to be able to take abuse, and you have to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you have to be able to have people disrespect you and you have to smile and act like it’s okay.”