US actor Will Smith has apologised to comedian Chris Rock for hitting him at the 2022 Academy Awards.
It is his first in-person statement about the incident.
In a post on Instagram, Smith said: “Chris, I apologise to you. My behaviour was unacceptable. And I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
Smith admitted he had reached out to Rock, but that a message had come back to say he was “not ready to talk”.
He also apologised to Rock’s family and in particular his mother, who Smith said he had seen being interviewed about the moment.
Will Smith hits Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on March 27th, 2022. Picture by: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
Smith said: “I wasn’t thinking about how many people got hurt in that moment. So I want to apologise to Chris’s mother.”
“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment”, he added.
Smith also apologised to his wife and family “for the heat that I brought on all of us”.
He acknowledged his actions had stolen a huge moment from fellow nominees, too.
“To all my fellow nominees…. it really breaks my heart to have stolen and tarnished your moment.”
In closing his apology, Smith added: “I’m human. And I made a mistake and I’m trying not to think of myself as a piece of s.
“I know it was confusing. I know it was shocking, but I promise you, I am deeply devoted and committed to putting light and love and joy into the world.
“And, you know. If you hang on, I promise we’ll be able to be friends again.”
During the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles in March, Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock – who had made a joke about the actor’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith returned to his seat and twice shouted: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fmouth.”
— Jack Quann (@jqbilbao) March 28, 2022
The same evening, Smith accepted the Oscar for Best Actor in King Richard.
He was subsequently banned from the Academy Awards for 10 years.
The board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which organises the Oscars, has said he will “not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards.”
Back in April, the AMPAS admitted it “did not adequately address the situation”.
“The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behaviour we saw Mr Smith exhibit on stage”, it said.
“During our telecast, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For this, we are sorry.
“This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short – unprepared for the unprecedented”, it added.
Additional reporting: IRN