On Sunday, Will Smith won the Oscar for best actor for portraying Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard in the tennis biopic “King Richard,” taking home the trophy minutes after he went viral for slapping presenter Chris Rock onstage.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said through tears.
“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Not long before he earned his golden statuette, Smith sparked controversy at the gala by storming onstage and slapping Rock, who made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“I’m hoping the Academy invites me back,” Smith said to close his speech.
After the altercation and Smith’s speech, host Amy Schumer returned to the stage, saying, “Did I miss anything? there’s like a different vibe in here.”
Smith stormed the Oscars stage and struck Chris Rock across the face for joking about his wife, in a moment at Sunday’s gala that immediately went viral and left stunned viewers questioning if it had been scripted or genuine.
Rock, presenting the best documentary prize with a short comedy routine, had cracked a joke comparing Jada Pinkett Smith’s tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore’s appearance in the film “G.I. Jane” and suggesting she appear in a sequel.
In a moment that triggered awkward silence and confusion in the Dolby Theatre, Smith strode up to Rock and slapped him, before returning to his seat alongside Jada and shouting profanities.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” yelled Smith, forcing the producers to bleep out several seconds of audio from the televised broadcast in the United States.
Jada Pinkett Smith, who is also an actress, suffers from alopecia, and publicly revealed her diagnosis in 2018.
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg, in attendance, a tearful Smith needed to be “pulled aside and comforted” by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry during a commercial break.
“Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family. Right now we’re moving on with love,” said Sean “Diddy” Combs, presenting the next section.