“I love [Will Smith] very much,” the former child star, 43, wrote via Twitter on Sunday, April 3. “[But] Chris Rock didn’t deserve to be hit. Period.” Adding that her “heart aches” over the altercation, Ali explained that she believes Smith, 53, is still a good person. “I don’t know what caused that chaos & confusion, but I do know that Will has a big heart. I’ve seen him many times try his best to do what is right. I believe in him.”
The singer is the first member of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast to comment on the incident.
On Sunday, March 27, Smith slapped Rock, 57, in the face after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith — who has alopecia — starring in G.I. Jane 2, a reference to her shaved head. After storming the stage in defense of his wife, 50, the “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” rapper returned to his seat and yelled for Rock to “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–ing mouth.”
When Smith won the Best Actor award later in the evening for his performance in King Richard, he tearfully apologized for his actions. “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” he said. “I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees … Thank you for this moment. And thank you on behalf of Richard and the entire Williams family. Thank you. I hope the academy invites me back.”
The following day, the Ali actor issued a public apology to Rock, writing via Instagram, “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. … 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.”
Smith’s post continued: “I would also like to apologize to The Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world.”
On Monday, March 28, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that they would be conducting a formal investigation into the situation. “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the Academy said in a statement via Variety on Monday, March 28. “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 resigned from the Academy four days later, announcing that he plans to “fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct.”
In a statement to Variety, the Bad Boys star continued, “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”
During a standup show in Boston on Wednesday, March 30, Rock told the crown that he is “still processing” everything that happened on Oscar night.