“Will and Jada were in good spirits upon arrival and on the red carpet, but things seemed tense. Will was not as playful and goofy as he usually is, he was more serious,” an eyewitness exclusively told Us Weekly.
“When Regina was bringing up the ‘single’ males for COVID-19 testing, Will gave a small, polite smile, but those around him could tell he did not think the joke was funny,” the source claims. (Smith, 53, was the only actor called up who didn’t join Hall.)
Things took another turn when Rock, 57, joked about Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, joining the cast of G.I. Jane 2. The King Richard star subsequently hit the comedian and told him to never talk about the Red Table Talk host, 50, again.
“After the slap, Will was being comforted by Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington and others around him, but Will seemed devastated and very sad directly after,” the eyewitness tells Us. “Will and Jada had a short, but serious conversation as she grabbed his hand for a moment. After Will yelled at Chris, Will’s eyes were tearing up and he was sitting very stiff for the rest of the evening. At first, Will looked to be taking the joke in stride, but after Jada looked visibly upset, Will immediately stood up and took action.”
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum returned to the stage to accept the Oscar for best actor, getting emotional again as he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees. The vibe for the famous family took a positive turn, however, when they arrived at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
“It was strange how happy Will and his family were acting at the afterparty. They arrived all smiles and sat in a section on their own,” another source tells Us. “The DJ played a medley of Will’s songs and he danced with Jada. Several people were coming up to congratulate him. From watching [them from afar], you never would have thought there was any drama all night.”
The insider adds that Smith was “in full celebration mode and wasn’t going to let anything bring him down,” noting, “Will stayed up until the end dancing and having an amazing time.”
In addition to Pinkett Smith, the couple’s kids, Jaden Smith and Willow Smith, and the Oscar winner’s eldest son, Trey, were on hand to help him celebrate at the afterparty. Will’s ex-wife and Trey’s mother, Sheree Zampino, also got in on the fun, posting a photo with her ex at the bash via Instagram.
The award winner apologized the following day. “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” he said in an extended statement via Instagram. “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”
He added an apology specifically to Rock, writing, “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.”
With reporting by Travis Cronin