According to inside reporting, the joke that comedian Chris Rock made towards Jada Pinkett Smith at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday (March 27th) which led to Will Smith slapping him during the live telecast was not part of the script and was not done during rehearsals for the event. The comedian, who was presenting the award for Best Documentary, had begun by directing a joke at Smith’s wife. “Jada I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it”, he said. Pinkett Smith has been public about her hair being low, disclosing that she has been suffering from the autoimmune disease alopecia for a couple of years. After striking Rock, Smith returned to his seat and yelled at him to “keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth.”
The shocking action by the King Richard actor dominated the rest of the ceremony, exemplified at the moment when Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actor a short time later. In his speech, he would offer an apology for his actions but pointedly did not name Chris Rock, only touching upon the incident by referring to the role he played as the father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams.”, he said during the speech.
On Monday afternoon (March 28th), the actor issued a longer apology to Rock through his Instagram page. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong,” he wrote. 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.” Smith also apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as those attending and the audience in addition to the Williams family and the team behind King Richard. While Rock has declined to press charges, there is still speculation on if he and Smith will continue to straighten out everything between them.