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Richard Williams condemns Will Smith's onstage slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars

Will Smith accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for <em>King Richard</em> during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Sunday in Hollywood, Calif.
Neilson Barnard
/
Getty Images
Will Smith accepts the award for best actor in a leading role for King Richard during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Sunday in Hollywood, Calif.

Shortly after slapping Oscars host Chris Rock in a shocking moment during the annual awards show on Sunday, megastar Will Smith won the Academy Award for best leading actor.

Now, Richard Williams — the man Smith portrayed on screen in his award-winning role — is condemning the televised burst of violence.

"We don't know all the details of what happened," Williams told NBC News through his son, Chavoita LeSane. "But we don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it's in self-defense."

Williams is the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and is played by Smith in the film King Richard.

Smith rushed onstage during the Sunday night broadcast and hit Rock after the host made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, a hair loss condition, and keeps her head shaved.

Smith apologized to the academy during his acceptance speech, saying he looked "like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams."

Only later, in a post on Instagram, did he apologize directly to Rock and say that his own "behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable."

Smith's mother, Carolyn Smith, said in an interview with the Philadelphia TV station 6ABC that she had never seen her characteristically positive son get so angry that he was driven to violence.

"He is a very even, people person. That's the first time I've ever seen him go off. First time in his lifetime ... I've never seen him do that," Carolyn Smith said.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that it had launched an inquiry into Smith's slap of Rock during the show.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez

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