In a moment that captured how insulated Hollywood stars are from having to face accountability for their actions, perhaps the most surreal moment in the history of live award shows, actor Will Smith assaulted comedian Chris Rock on live national television, only to win an Oscar minutes later for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, in which he portrayed Venus and Serena Williams’ father.
And after violently smacking Chris Rock in the mouth for joking about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, screaming profanities along the way, Smith would then muster tears during his acceptance speech and talk about being an ambassador of love — with acting skills like that, there’s no wonder he’s worth an estimated $350 million.
The megastar took exception to Rock joking about his wife starring in G.I. Jane 2 because of her close-cropped hair — Jada has struggled with hair loss as a result of an alopecia diagnosis.
Smith calmly stood up, walked up to Rock on live television and smacked him in the face, returning to his seat before screaming twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth!”
Yet, when he’s announced as the winner of Best Actor, Smith got a standing ovation from the room of mega-rich celebrities and stars.
Not only that, he was given the floor for nearly five minutes to wax poetically.
“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 said, adding, “I am being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.”
The actor clearly has an inflated sense of self worth, but that’s the end result of reaching a level of stardom few achieve, living in a world of overwhelming adulation where he can do no wrong.
“You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and pretend that’s okay,” Smith said. “But Richard Williams, and what I love — D. Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment 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 and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story,” he continued. “That’s what I do. I want to be an ambassador for that kind of love and concern.”
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize for my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment, and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all the people… Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
And to ensure he got everyone on his side before the fallout over his violence took root, Smith threw in a touching comment about his mother.
“To my mother, a lot of this moment is complicated for me, but for my mother. She didn’t want to come out; she has a knitting crew. She has her knitting friends that are watching… Being able to care for my mother, my family, my wife. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. I thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family,” Smith said. “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
The last line betraying the actor’s inner conscience telling him he crossed a serious line Sunday night — even though he will likely escape accountability in the real world.
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