Will Smith apologizes in 'Best Actor' acceptance speech following hit, confrontation

94th Academy Awards - Show
Posted at 8:00 PM, Mar 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 01:07:17-04

LOS ANGELES — The Fresh Prince became a king and finally won his first Oscar.

Will Smith took home his first Academy Award on Sunday night for playing Richard Williams — father and tennis mentor to Venus and Serena Williams — in “King Richard.”

Smith spoke shortly after an onstage confrontation with comedian Chris Rock, who made a crack at his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith noted, in tears, that Richard Williams was also fiercely protective of his family. “I want to be a vessel for love,” he said.

The Oscars ground to a shocked silence after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock onstage after the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife.

Smith cursed at Rock after returning to his seat. Rock was presenting the award for best documentary when the tense exchange happened.

ABC News tweeted saying the Los Angeles police are aware of the confrontation, but no police report has been filed.

He also apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees. “This is a beautiful moment,” he said. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father. But love will make you do crazy things.”

The win comes for his third nomination. He was previously nominated for “Ali” in 2002 and “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007.

Smith beat out fellow nominees Javier Bardem, Andrew Garfield, Benedict Cumberbatch and Denzel Washington, who trumped Smith for the 2002 best actor Oscar with his win for “Training Day.”

Before the confrontation, the Oscars were running smoothly and making history with their supporting actor winners.

Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina to win an Academy Award for supporting actress, while Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to win an acting award.

The 94th Academy Awards kicked Sunday off with Beyoncé, a string of awards handed out off-camera to Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic “Dune” and a trio of Oscars hosts in Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.