Richard Williams Has Some Thoughts About The Slap That Everyone Can't Stop Talking About

Will Smith used his moment accepting the award for best actor at Sunday night's Oscars to contextualize a shocking event from just a short while prior. As Variety notes, Smith won for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams. However, his big moment was tainted by a violent outburst from earlier in the night, which occurred in response to comedian Chris Rock's joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

The "King Richard" star lashed out when Rock made fun of her buzzed hair, which is a result of Pinkett Smith's lengthy struggle with alopecia. In his speech, a visibly tearful Smith said, "I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment, and I'm not crying for winning an award. It's not about winning an award for me." Smith went on to credit the cast and crew of the hit biopic.

He was adamant about sharing the spotlight with others, but the actor also opined, "Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams." Per The Guardian, Smith later also apologized publicly, and to Rock directly, acknowledging there was no excuse for his behavior. However, the real-life Williams took issue with his onscreen counterpart's initial justification for his actions.

Richard Williams was shocked by Will Smith's behavior

During Will Smith's emotional Oscars acceptance speech, the actor acknowledged, "Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family" (via Twitter), apparently in a reference to what went down shortly beforehand between him and Chris Rock. After taking a moment to thank executive producers Venus and Serena Williams, alongside their father, Richard Williams, Smith admitted to being "overwhelmed." He explained, "I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people ... and to be a river to my people."

The moment didn't go down well with fans, particularly those who were concerned over Jada Pinkett-Smith's reaction, which certain commentators believed fed into toxic masculinity. As it turns out, the real-life Richard Williams wasn't too impressed either. Speaking to NBC News, through his son, Chavoita LeSane, the queenmaker admitted nobody really knows exactly what happened on the night. But Williams also made it clear, "We don't condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it's in self-defense." 

LeSane did acknowledge, however, that his father shares the world's collective shock over the incident (he's been speaking for him since Williams suffered a stroke). Smith's behavior was condemned by The Academy in a direct statement posted to Twitter. There are even calls for the actor's Oscar to be revoked, though it remains to be seen whether that will actually happen. A formal investigation is currently underway, per the New York Post.