“We don’t know all the details of what happened,” the 80-year-old tennis coach’s son Chaviota LeSane told NBC News on his behalf on Monday, March 28. “But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”
While presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature at the 94th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27, Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith starring in G.I. Joe 2, seemingly referring to her shaved head. In response, Smith rushed onto the stage to defend his wife, 50, who has alopecia, and slapped Rock, 57, in the face. Once he returned to his seat, Smith shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth.”
Later in the ceremony, while accepting the best actor trophy for his performance in King Richard, Smith apologized for the incident and explained that he felt a call to protect his community. “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. … Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams,” he said with tears streaming down his face.
He continued: “But love will make you do crazy things. … Thank you for this moment. And thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. Thank you. I hope the Academy invites me back.”
On Monday, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum issued a public apology to Rock for his behavior. “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith wrote via Instagram. “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable.” While he confessed that he had become used to “jokes at my expense,” hearing the comedian “joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”
Smith 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.”
The Bad Boys star concluded his post by apologizing to the Williams family, as well as the cast and crew who worked on King Richard, writing, “I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences responded to the incident after the show concluded on Sunday, tweeting that they “do not condone violence of any form.” The following day, they announced that they had begun a “formal review” of the altercation. “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the Academy said in a statement via Variety. “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.”
Though Rock has not yet commented on the situation, Us Weekly confirmed that he will not be pressing charges.