“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” the newly minted Best Actor Oscar winner began in a Monday, March 28, Instagram post. He added, “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.” Jada has been open about her struggle with the hair loss condition alopecia.
Will continued, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. 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.”
“I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us,” Will wrote, before signing off, “I am a work in progress.”
Chris was on stage making jokes about audience members when he snarked about Jada’s shaved head. The actress revealed in 2018 that she was suffering from hair loss associated with alopecia. In 2021, Jada bravely took the step of shaving her head completely and has been wearing it that way ever since.
“Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2,” Chris joked about Jada’s shaved head. While Will initially laughed, his wife was seen rolling her eyes in disgust, clearly offended. At that point, the Men in Black star got out of his chair and headed on stage, walking directly up to Chris and slapping him across the face.
When Will got back to his seat, he yelled to Chris, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth.” When the comedian responded, “Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” the actor repeated himself with the same expletive.
The incident marred what was supposed to be one of the biggest nights of Will’s life, as he was later named Best Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard, where he portrayed superstar tennis siblings Venus and Serena Williams‘ dad. During his acceptance speech, Will stated, “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees” but failed to apologize to Chris for the incident.
The following morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put out a statement condemning Will’s behavior and announcing an investigation into what happened. It read: “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
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