Actor Will Smith has apologized to Chris Rock for hitting the comedian during the live broadcast of the glitzy Oscars ceremony in Hollywood.
“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,” the winner of the best actor Oscar wrote on Instagram on Monday night.
Smith strode on stage and struck Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about the appearance of Smith’s wife. Less than an hour later, Smith won the best actor award for his role as the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams in the film King Richard.
Rock, in a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, had referenced the 1997 film G.I. Jane in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. It was unclear whether Rock was aware that Smith’s wife has a disease that causes hair loss.
“Jokes at my expense are part of the job,” Smith said on Monday, “but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”
“I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be,” he added. The couple has been married since 1997.
The apology comes after the 9,900-member Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, the body that awards the Oscars, condemned the 53-year-old actor’s actions and said it was reviewing the incident.
“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,” the academy added.
The group’s conduct policy states it is “opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination” and expects members to uphold the values “of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity”.
Violations may result in suspension or expulsion from the organization, revocation of Oscars, or loss of eligibility for future awards, according to the policy.