Will Smith has issued an apology for striking presenter Chris Rock at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
In a post on Instagram on Monday afternoon, Smith called his behavior “unacceptable and inexcusable.”
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Smith added in his post that, “Violence in all forms is poisonous and destructive.”
He also included in his note an apology to “the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world,” as well as the family of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and those involved with the film for which he won his best actor award on Sunday.
“I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us,” he wrote. “I am a work in progress.”
Smith on Sunday caused a stir that changed the tone of an otherwise uplifting Oscars ceremony when he stormed the stage and struck comedian Rock in the face.
The moment came after Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.
While presenting the award for best documentary, Rock joked, “Jada I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.”
The camera cut to an unamused Pinkett Smith, who has been open about her struggle with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that leads to hair loss.
“That was a nice one,” Rock said, appearing to respond to the joke not going over well.
Rock then said, “Oh uh,” and laughed as Smith walked toward him on stage and slapped Rock on the face.
A tearful Smith acknowledged the earlier incident and apologized to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, and fellow nominees. Notably, Rock was not mentioned by name.
Smith said, “I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse and have people talk people about you. In this business, you gotta have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and pretend that’s ok.”
Smith shared that prior to his win, fellow nominee Denzel Washington shared some wisdom with him: “At your highest moment be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
Smith ended saying that he hopes the Academy welcomes him back.
The Academy Awards tweeted a short statement about the on-stage incident that read: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
The Los Angeles Police Department also said Rock chose not to press charges against Smith over the onstage altercation.
However, the reaction to the moment continued to boil overnight as after parties raged on and the morning came.
By midday on Monday, the Academy issued a stronger statement, this time condemning Smith’s actions and revealing they had started a “formal review around the incident.”
It added that it “will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
Earlier , it was learned that Academy leadership “strongly considered” removing Smith from the Oscars telecast after the incident, according to a source close to the situation.
“There were immediate discussions but the Academy decision makers were seated in various spots in the Dolby Theater and couldn’t mobilize to make a decision before he won best actor,” the source said.