'I Was Wrong,' Will Smith Tells Chris Rock in Post

Support and backlash are circulating after Oscar-winning actor slapped comedian onstage
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2022 6:41 AM CDT
Updated Mar 29, 2022 12:01 AM CDT
LAPD: Rock Won't Press Charges Against Smith
Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(Newser) Update: This file has been updated to include Will Smith's online post Monday. Will Smith has written a public apology to Chris Rock for slapping him Sunday night during the Academy Awards ceremony, Variety reports. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris," says the Instagram post, which went up late Monday afternoon. "I was out of line and I was wrong." The actor struck Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The post says the apology also applies to the academy, the broadcast's producers, attendees, TV viewers, and the family of Richard Williams, per the AP. Smith won an Oscar later in the evening for his portrayal of Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard. "I am a work in progress," Smith's post concluded.

More fallout after the "slap heard around the world":

  • No charges: The Los Angeles Police Department says Rock won't be pressing charges against Smith, who reacted violently to a joke about his wife's battle with alopecia. In a release, the LAPD noted that although the comedian declined to file a complaint against the actor, "if the party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report," reports the Los Angeles Times. Industry insiders insist the kerfuffle wasn't staged, and sources tell Page Six that the two men "agreed to make amends later in the evening."

  • Support for Smith: Comedian Tiffany Haddish told People after the show she thought Smith's slap was "the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," adding, "When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife, that meant so much to me." Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who herself has alopecia, also stood up for Smith, per Politico. "#Alopecia nation stand up!" she wrote in a since-deleted tweet, thanking Smith for his actions. "Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults." Meanwhile, Smith and Pinkett Smith's son, Jaden, simply tweeted at the end of the program, "And That's How We Do It."
  • Backlash: Maria Shriver wasn't loving Smith's reaction. "#WillSmith says he wants to be a vessel for love," she tweeted, referring to Smith's acceptance speech. "Love is not violent. Love is not what was displayed on a global stage tonight." Meanwhile, writer E. Jean Carroll also cited Smith's speech, noting: "'Love will make you do crazy things.' Every woman who's ever been hit has heard that one."
  • Backlash to the backlash: Judd Apatow had an especially strong reaction to Smith's slap. "He could have killed him," he wrote in a since-deleted tweet. "That's pure out of control rage and violence." One commenter noted, per the Independent: "That was 100 per cent the greatest overreaction of all time."
  • Shared fault: Actress Sophia Bush acknowledged that both Smith and Rock "need a breather." "Violence isn't ok. Assault is never the answer," she tweeted. However, she pointed out Rock's previous Oscars diss of Pinkett Smith and how Rock shouldn't have been "punching down at someone's auto-immune disease ... Doing so on purpose is cruel."
  • Is Smith's Oscar at risk? Industry insiders have told the New York Post it's a possibility, with one "highly placed Hollywood source" telling the paper, "It's basically assault. Everyone was just so shocked." The Post notes Smith may have violated the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' code of conduct, which was released in 2017 at the peak of the #MeToo movement. "There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power, or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency," AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson warned members at the time.
  • Academy statement: The event organizer is staying relatively tight-lipped at the moment. The only official comments as of early Monday came in the form of a brief Academy statement soon after the show had ended, per the New York Times: "The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world."
(Read more Will Smith stories.)

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