By now we’ve all seen what happened Sunday night: Comedian Chris Rock made a joke in poor taste on the Oscars stage about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, being bald as a result of her alopecia. Smith then stormed the stage, slapped Rock hard across the face, returned to his seat, and yelled at Rock: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” On live television.
The actor later won the award for Best Actor in King Richard, which felt almost like a scripted moment, and used his acceptance speech to apologize to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and his fellow nominees. He notably did not apologize to Rock, until Monday night.
“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,” Smith wrote in an Instagram post, in which he tagged Rock. “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.”
Smith added that he also wants 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. I am a work in progress.”
Amid speculation that the Academy may strip Smith of his Oscar, the organization has so far only verbally condemned him. “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,” it said in a statement Monday.
The LAPD confirmed that Rock “declined to file a police report.”