Watching Will Smith smack Chris Rock wasn’t on anyone’s Oscars bingo card, but neither was Will Smith winning Best Actor after slapping Chris Rock. Smith won for his portrayal of Serena and Venus Williams’ father in the drama King Richard over Javier Bardem, Andrew Garfield, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Denzel Washington. He was joined at the Oscars by his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the target of a G.I. Jane II joke from Rock. Pinkett Smith — who has alopecia — has been vocal in the past about her hair loss as a symptom of the illness. Smith shared a kiss with his wife before making his acceptance speech, in which he apologized to the Academy and remarked, “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father.”
Read the full speech transcript below:
Oh, man. 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 is one of the strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya [Sidney] and Demi [Singleton], 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 got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile, you got to pretend like that’s okay. Richard Williams, and what I loved — thank you, Dee — Denzel said a few minutes ago, 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 on TV. 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. I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I’m not — I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things. To my mother, a lot of this moment is really complicated for me. To my mother, she didn’t want to come out, she had her knitting friends, she has a knitting crew, she’s in Philly watching. Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife, I’m taking up too much time, thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. And thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. Thank you. I hope the Academy invites me back. Thank you.