'King Richard' Williams doesn't 'condone' Will Smith's Oscars slap

The Best Actor winner got the trophy for playing Venus and Serena Williams's father

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Richard Williams, the man who Will Smith played in Oscar-winning film King Richard, the one he got his Oscar for on Sunday night, has said he doesn't "condone" the altercation with Chris Rock.

At the 94th Academy Awards, Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's alopecia-caused hair loss.

“We don’t know all the details of what happened,” Richard Williams said via his son Chavoita LeSane to NBC News. “But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self defence.”

Will Smith as Richard Williams in a scene from 'King Richard'. Warner Bros Pictures via AP

LeSane, who has reportedly been Richard's spokesman since his father had a stroke, said his father was surprised by Smith's reaction, but would not comment on the actor's acceptance speech.

In King Richard, Smith takes on the role of Richard, Serena and Venus Williams's father, portraying a man with a dream to raise his two youngest daughters to be tennis superstars.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the film depicts the real Richard with all his nuance.

"The way Will embodies my father just took the whole film to a whole new level," Serena previously told The National. "It's so emotional, it's well done, and it's a brilliant piece of work."

Smith won his first Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal, less than half an hour after the incident with Rock took place.

In his acceptance speech, Smith made a reference to Richard.

"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world," he said.

"Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams.

"But love will make you do crazy things."

Rock had likened Pinkett Smith's baldness to a GI Jane haircut, which prompted Smith to confront him.

Smith initially laughed at the joke and Pinkett Smith did not. Then, as Rock prepared to hand out the Best Documentary Oscar, Smith walked up to him and slapped his face, which prompted the presenter to shout, “Oh wow ... Will Smith just smacked the [expletive] out of me.”

Smith then sat down, but shouted from his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out of your [expletive] mouth.”

A flustered Rock attempted to brush the incident off, saying, “That was, er, the greatest night in the history of television,” before proceeding to present the award.

Smith, who was later seen partying at Oscars after-parties, has since made a public apology to Rock through Instagram.

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," he wrote.

"My behaviour 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 apologise 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."

Updated: March 29, 2022, 7:40 AM
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