Chris Rock will not press charges against Will Smith after the King Richard star smacked the comedian onstage at the 94th Academy Awards Sunday evening. Smith — who would go on to win his first Oscar for Best Actor not long after the shocking altercation — was seemingly incensed by a G.I. Jane-related joke made at the expense of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who lives with hair loss due to alopecia.
"Keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth!" Smith shouted at Rock following the action. In a clear effort to lighten the mood, a dumbfounded Rock declared, "That was the greatest night in the history of television," eliciting nervous laughter from the audience.
"LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program," the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement published by Variety. "The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report."
Smith went on to acknowledge the incident during a tearful acceptance speech, but did not mention Rock by name.
"I know to do what we do you’ve gotta be able to take abuse, you’ve gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you," he remarked. "In this business, you’ve gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you’ve gotta smile and pretend like that’s ok. Denzel [Washington] said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful — that’s when the Devil comes for you.’ … I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees … Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things."
Check out the actor’s full speech below:
According to Aron Solomon, chief legal analyst for Esquire Digital, a marketing agency for law firms: “The question that millions of people are asking this morning is whether Will Smith’s actions legally constituted assault and battery. While the Oscars are broadcast to a massive audience around the world, they are held in California where assault and battery are, by statute, two different crimes. It is clear that what happened at the Oscars was an assault under the California statutory definition."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched an official inquiry of the event, stating: “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. 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.”
Smith formally apologized to Rock with a message posted to his Instagram page Monday.
"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," he wrote. "My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. 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. 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. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness. I would 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. I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will."