Will Smith: Read the Best Actor winner’s speech in full as he apologises over Chris Rock altercation

‘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,’ the first-time Oscar winner said

Maanya Sachdeva
Monday 28 March 2022 09:05
Will Smith breaks down in tears during Oscars acceptance speech

Will Smith took home his first Oscar for his performance in King Richard just moments after he hit Chris Rock on stage.

Smith, who was nominated alongside actors including Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Garfield, tearfully accepted his Best Actor award after the “unpleasant” incident between him and Rock occurred at the 94th Academy Awards.

During his emotional acceptance speech, Smith focussed on the similarities between his character – tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams’s father Richard – and himself.

Describing himself and the senior Williams as “fierce defenders” of family, Smith attempted to address the confrontation which occurred after Rock appeared to joke about the actor’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Here’s what Smith said in full:

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.

“Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis (who played Williams’s wife Brandi), who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses that played Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.

“I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, and you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that‘s Ok.

“But Richard Williams, and what I loved, thank you D Denzel (Washington) said to me a few minutes ago, he said, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.’

“It’s like I want to be a vessel for love. I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena.

“I just spit, I hope they didn’t see that.

“I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story. That’s what I want to do. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern.

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“I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees.

Will Smith punches Chris Rock at the Oscars

“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 a light on all of the people. Tim and Trevor and Zack and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of King Richard and Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family.

“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.

“To my mother. Um, a lot of this moment is really complicated for me, but to my mother. She didn’t want to come out. She had her knitting friends, she has a knitting crew watching with her. Being able to love and care for my mother, my family, my wife.

“I’m taking up too much time. Thank you for this honour, thank you for this moment. I thank you on behalf of Richard and Oracene, the entire Williams family. Thank you. I’m hoping the Academy invites me back. Thank you.”

See the full list of winners from the 2022 Oscars here. Follow live updates and reactions from the ceremony here

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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