Oscars 2022: Will Smith breaks down in tears during acceptance speech as he references Chris Rock incident

Actor apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees

Annabel Nugent,Louis Chilton
Monday 28 March 2022 04:30 BST
Will Smith breaks down in tears during Oscars acceptance speech
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Will Smith broke down in tears during his Oscars acceptance speech after hitting Chris Rock on stage.

In what is being called “the most insane moment” in Oscars history, the actor took to the stage to punch Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, actor Jada Pinkett Smith.

Smith went on to receive the award for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard.

The actor delivered a lengthy speech accepting the prize, during which he addressed the on-stage incident.

He praised Richard Williams – the father of Venus and Serena Williams whom he portrays in the film – as a “fierce defender of his family”.

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” said Smith.

He continued: “I know, to do what we do, we’ve gotta be able to take abuse. You’ve gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve gotta be able to have people disrespecting you.

Smith then revealed what Denzel Washington had said to him after the apparent altercation with Rock.

Addressing the altercation, Smith – who grew increasingly upset during his time on stage – said: “I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees.

“This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine light on all the people, Tim [White, producer], Trevor [White, producer], Zach [Baylin, writer], Saniyya [Sidney, who plays Venus], and Demi [Singleton, who plays Serena] and Aunjanue [Ellis, who plays Oracene Price] of King Richard and Serena, the entire Williams family.”

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He continued: “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams but love will make you do crazy things.”

Smith went on to pay tribute to his mother who was not in attendance at the Los Angeles ceremony because she wanted to watch the awards with her “knitting crew” in Philadelphia instead.

“Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife... I’m taking up too much time,” said Smith.

“Thank you for this honour. Thank you for this moment. Thank you on behalf of Richard, Oracene, the entire Williams family.”

“Hopefully the Academy invites me back,” laughed the actor before he left the stage.

Following the incident, a joke Rock made about Pinkett Smith at the 2016 Oscars resurfaced online.

Earlier in the ceremony, Regina Hall – who was hosting the ceremony alongside Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes – poked fun at Smith and Pinkett Smith’s marriage.

Dune and Coda were the evening’s big winners, with the latter winning all three nominations it was up for, including Best Picture. Find the full list of 2022 Oscar winners here.

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