(NEXSTAR) – Will Smith has apologized for smacking Chris Rock during the Oscars Sunday night.
Smith stunned the Dolby Theatre crowd and viewers at home when he took the stage during Rock’s remarks after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Smith’s wife. Rock said, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.”
Smith then walked across the stage and slapped Rock across the face. Once he returned to his seat, Smith shouted to Rock, twice, to “get my wife’s name out your (expletive) mouth.” A short time later, Smith won best actor and apologized to the Academy during his acceptance speech.
New reports have now surfaced revealing immediate behind-the-scenes discussions between the celebrities’ publicists, academy executives and Oscar producers over whether to remove Smith from the theater for the remainder of the evening. But to avoid further live TV disruptions, Smith was allowed to stay and accept the Oscar for best actor, a category in which he was highly favored. He accepted the award to a standing ovation from his peers.
Elizabeth Wagermeister, Variety chief correspondent, said, ““Will Smith won that award for an exceptional performance in King Richard but his performance last night at the Oscars in real life also does need to be addressed,”
Pinkett Smith, whose head is shaved, has spoken publicly about her alopecia diagnosis. Rock has also previously joked about her.
“Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith said in a Monday evening Instagram post.
“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,” he continued. “There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness. I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.”
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith’s actions Monday, adding in a statement: “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law.”
The Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday it was aware of a slapping incident at the Oscars but said the person involved had declined to file a police report.
Sources say Chris Rock left the stage shaken and spoke to the LAPD backstage, where he said he would not press charges.
Smith ended his public apology saying, “I am a work in progress.”
The Associated Press and NewsNation’s Sydney Kalich and J. Scott Wilson contributed to this report.