Will Smith has won the Best Actor Oscar at the 2022 Academy Awards for his role in King Richard. He was up against Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Andrew Garfield (Tick… Tick… Boom), Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth), and Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos).
“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,” the actor said upon accepting his award.
He spoke about his castmates, then appeared to address his altercation with Chris Rock which took place earlier in the ceremony. The moment saw Smith step on stage to confront Rock about a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“Denzel [Washington] said to be a few minutes ago, at your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,” he said: “I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees.”
The visibly emotional Smith continued: “I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for entrusting me with your story, that’s what I want to do, I want to be an ambassador for that kind of love and care and concern.”
Best Actor in a Leading Role goes to Will Smith for his incredible performance in ‘King Richard’ Congratulations! #Oscars pic.twitter.com/y0UTX48214March 28, 2022
In King Richard, Smith plays Richard Williams, father to Venus and Serena Williams (Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton) and married to Oracene ‘Brandy’ Price (Aunjanue Ellis). The movie follows Richard’s efforts to help Venus and Serena become professional tennis players – the real-life Williams sisters are executive producers on the film.
Following the incident, the Los Angeles Police Department has released an official statement saying that Rock will not be pressing charges.
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement reads. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
King Richard is up for six Oscars tonight: along with Best Actor, it’s nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Ellis, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song, and Best Film Editing.