Will Smith Formally Apologizes To Chris Rock For Slapping Him At The Oscars

Will Smith glaring at Chris Rock at 94th Academy Awards
(Image credit: ABC)

A lot happened last night at the 94th Academy Awards, from both of Zack Snyder’s 2021 movies, Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Army of the Dead, being honored in the fan-voted categories, to the James Bond franchise scoring a 60th anniversary tribute. However, the moment that’s been generating the most conversation is when Will Smith went onstage to slap Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance. Nearly 24 hours after that happened, Smith has formally apologized to Rock for the incident.

Although Will Smith apologized onstage to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences later during the ceremony when he accepted the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard, he didn’t mention Chris Rock during the speech. A day later though, the Men in Black actor shared an Instagram post where he said he was sorry to the SNL alum. In his words:

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.

Will Smith started his statement saying that “violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” and described his behavior as “unacceptable and inexcusable.” Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith starring in G.I. Jane 2, referring to her being bald, which is a result of having alopecia. Smith admitted while jokes made at his expense are “part of the job,” a joke being made about her wife’s medical condition was “too much” for him to bear, and he “reacted emotionally.”

Along with echoing his apology to the Academy, Will Smith used his latest statement to apologize to the 94th Academy Awards’ producers and attendees, as well as to the family of Richard Williams and everyone he worked with on King Richard. He capped things off by describing himself as a “work in progress.” 

The incident at last night’s Oscars happened ahead of Chris Rock presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature, which Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) won. Following the conclusion of the ceremony, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement that Rock declined to press charges against Will Smith. Sean Combs, a.k.a. Diddy, who presented after Rock was done, also claimed that the two men squashed their beef later on in the night.

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock continues to generate a lot of social media chatter. Among the notable names that have thrown in their two cents on what happened is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Janet Hubert, who congratulated Smith on his Oscar win and made it clear that the one time she met Rock wasn’t a pleasant experience. Even with Smith having apologized, it’s doubtful that what’s been called “the slap heard around the world” will die down in the public consciousness anytime soon.

Our list of 2022 Academy Awards winners is available for those wondering who walked away with golden trophies last night. If you missed the original Oscars telecast and want to it unfold for yourself, you can do so with a Hulu subscription.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.