Actor Will Smith has apologized to comedian Chris Rock after he slapped him at the Oscars, saying his behavior was “unacceptable and unforgivable”.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith said in a statement. “I went overboard and was wrong.”
It comes after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – which awards the Academy Awards – condemned Smith over the incident and announced a formal review.
Smith slapped Rock on stage after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s wife.
The subject of the Rock-Anne Pinkett-Smith joke was a shaved head, which is caused by alopecia areata (hair loss).
Minutes later, Smith won his first Oscar in his career, for his portrayal of the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams in “King Richard”.
“Violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith said in a statement on Instagram.
“My behavior at the Oscars last night was unacceptable and gratuitous. Jokes about me are part of the profession, but joking about Jada’s medical condition was too much to bear, and my reaction was emotional.”
Smith apologized directly to Rock, saying, “I’ve crossed the line.” He also apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and to the Williams family.
“I deeply regret that my young behavior has been such a wonderful journey for all of us,” Smith wrote.
Prior to Smith’s apology, the academy said in a statement that it “condemns the actions” of the actor.
“We have formally begun a formal review of the incident and will consider further actions and consequences in accordance with our internal regulations, standards of conduct and California law,” the academy said.
Rock’s joke referred to the 1997 movie “GI Jane”, in which Demi Moore starred with a shaved head.
When Rock made the jest, Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes in displeasure, while Smith seemed to laugh and clap, before seeing him on stage heading for Rock.
The comedian appeared shocked immediately after the incident, but told the audience: “It was the greatest night in the history of television.”
So far, Rock has not commented on what happened.
The Los Angeles Police Department later told Variety that Rock “refused to file a police report.”
After the accident, Rock presented the award for Best Documentary Feature. This was the reason for his ascension to the stage.
Shortly after, in accepting the Academy Award for Best Actor, Smith said that Richard Williams was a “fierce advocate for his family” and that he had been a lifelong example of “loving people and protecting people”.
He added, “Art imitates life. I look like a crazy dad, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love makes you do crazy things.”
He concluded by saying that he hoped the Academy would invite him back.