Will Smith wins Best Actor after slapping Chris Rock, says he hopes Academy 'invites me back'

Will Smith
(Image credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Well, this definitely isn't how we pictured Will Smith's first Oscar win going down.

Smith on Sunday won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in King Richard, the first Academy Award of his career. But the win came just about a half hour after Smith, in an absolutely jaw-dropping moment, smacked Chris Rock in the face live on the broadcast.

Smith did not directly reference what happened with Rock in his acceptance speech, but he said he wanted to apologize to the Academy and his fellow nominees.

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"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said, referring to his character in King Richard. "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."

Smith cried as he continued his speech, and he joked that he looked like the "crazy father" on stage. "Love makes you do crazy things," he said.

"I know to do what we do, you've got to be able to take abuse, you've got to be able to have people talk crazy about you," he said. "You've got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you've gotta smile and pretend like that's okay."

Smith concluded his speech by saying he hopes the Academy "invites me back."

Earlier in the night, Rock was joking on the Oscar stage about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, leading him to get out of his seat, smack Rock, and yell, "Keep my wife's name out your f--king mouth!"

According to Variety, Smith's publicist was seen coming by his table to speak with him during the commercial break.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.