Will Smith has won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams' father Richard in the tennis biopic "King Richard".
53-year-old man took home the trophy just minutes after he went viral for slapping presenter Chris Rock on stage after he had made a joke about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith referenced the moment in his speech and later apologized to the Academy before going on to thank the Williams family.
"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."
"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said through tears. "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".
"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."
How it happened
The exchange began when Rock took aim at Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?” Rock’s reference was made from the 1997 film “G.I. Jane,” starring Demi Moore, who shaved her head to portray a fictional Navy Seal candidate.
Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.
The joke missed, badly.
Smith who laughed at first then walked onto the stage from his front-row seat and took a swing at Rock with an open palm, generating a loud smack. Smith walked back to his seat and shouted for Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a “G.I. Jane” joke — and Smith yelled back at him a second time.
Smith shouted at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth,” and the crowd hushed as it became clear this was no act.
But once Smith returned moments later to accept his first-ever Academy Award, he delivered a tearful apology.
Smith shared what Denzel Washington told him earlier: “At your highest moment, be careful because that’s when the devil comes for you.
"I’m hoping the Academy invites me back," Will Smith said, as he concluded his on-stage remarks.
Chris Rock announced he wouldn't press charges against Will Smith for the Oscars assault.
The confrontation overshadowed Smith’s milestone accomplishment. He was previously nominated twice for best actor, for his role in “Ali” in 2002 and “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007. In those films, he portrayed real-life characters: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Chris Garner, a homeless salesman.
This time, Smith won against formidable competition including Andrew Garfield, Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch and Denzel Washington — who won his first and only best actor Oscar award in 2002 over Smith for “Training Day.”
King Richard follows Williams’ relationship with his daughters, as well as their development into tennis stars. Smith also served as a producer for the film.