LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Will Smith marched onto the Oscars stage and smacked Chris Rock, the unpredictable moment served as a jarring interruption to Hollywood’s feel-good celebration.
But once Smith returned moments later to accept his first-ever Academy Award, he delivered a tearful apology for an act sure to overshadow his milestone achievement. He seized the opportunity during Sunday night’s awards to speak on being a fierce defender just like his tennis dad character Richard Williams from “King Richard.”
Smith felt like the protector of many including his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, after Rock made a joke about her appearance that didn’t sit right with him.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said as he began his acceptance speech after winning best actor honors. He apologized afterward to many people — including tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, Richard Williams’ daughters — but did not mention Rock in his apology.