Will Smith’s mom says Oscar slap ‘the first time I’ve ever seen him go off’

Following Smith’s assault on Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, he won the Best Actor award for his performance in King Richard.

Will Smith’s mother is speaking out about him slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards on Sunday over a G.I. Jane joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, whose head is shaved.

“First time in his lifetime … I’ve never seen him do that,” said Smith’s mother, Caroline Smith, 85, in an interview with ABC’s Philadelphia affiliate WPVI.

It’s worth noting that Smith reveals in his 2021 memoir, Will, that one of his greatest regrets is failing to protect his mother from his violent father while growing up. 

Chris Rock and Will Smith onstage during the show at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022. (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“When I was nine years old, I watched my father punch my mother in the side of the head so hard that she collapsed. I saw her spit blood. That moment in that bedroom, probably more than any other moment in my life, has defined who I am,” he writes

“Within everything that I have done since then — the awards and accolades, the spotlights and attention, the characters and the laughs — there has been a subtle string of apologies to my mother for my inaction that day. For failing her in the moment. For failing to stand up to my father. For being a coward.” 

He continues, “What you have come to understand as ‘Will Smith,’ the alien-annihilating MC, the bigger-than-life movie star, is largely a construction – a carefully crafted and honed character – designed to protect myself. To hide myself from the world. To hide the coward.”

And with that, perhaps when he realized his wife was hurt by Rock appearing to mock her hair loss while presenting at the Academy Awards, Smith became triggered and reacted in a way he thought was the opposite of a coward.

As theGrio reported, Smith posted an apology to Rock on Monday, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” said Smith in a statement issued by his publicist and posted on 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.

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.”

Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about her alopecia diagnosis, but according to TMZ, Rock was unaware of this when he compared her bald head to the character played by Demi Moore in 1997’s G.I. Jane during the live Oscars telecast. 

Following Smith’s assault on Rock over the joke, he won the Best Actor award for his performance in King Richard.

“I know how he works, how hard he works … I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. When I heard the name, I was just [like], ‘Yes!’ ” Caroline Smith said exclusively to WPVI.  

Rock declined to press charges and has not yet publicly addressed the incident. His comedy tour, Ego Death is expected to start on Sunday, April 2 at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

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