Will Smith Omits Chris Rock from Apology as He Wins Oscar: 'Love Makes You Do Crazy Things'

Will Smith hit Chris Rock onstage earlier in the ceremony over a joke made about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith

Will Smith had a tear-filled speech when accepting his first-ever Oscar after an onstage scuffle with Chris Rock.

The 53-year-old star won Best Actor at the 94th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, earning another accolade for his performance as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard.

The win came several minutes after Smith smacked comedian Rock on the Oscars stage after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair. After the remark, Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes and Smith took to the stage and hit Rock. Smith returned to his seat and shouted, "Keep my wife's name out your f-----g mouth."

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In his acceptance speech, Smith said through tears, "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. ... I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people."

Will Smith
Will Smith. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty

"I know to do what we do you gotta be able to take abuse; you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you, and you gotta smile and pretend like that's okay."

He compared himself to his King Richard character, who was a "fierce defender of his family."

Smith also shared that Denzel Washington told him minutes before his win that "at your highest moments, be careful because that's when the devil comes for you."

Smith then addressed the incident directly, offering an apology to the Academy and his fellow actors for the incident — but failed to mention Rock.

"I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees," he said.

Smith then joked, "Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."

He later added, "Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife ... Thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. ... I hope the Academy invites me back."

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Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars on March 27, 2022. Robyn Beck/getty

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This is Smith's first win and third nomination. He was previously nominated for Best Actor in 2002 for Ali and in 2007 for The Pursuit of Happyness.

The other nominees in the category are Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick... Boom!) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth).

Smith recently told PEOPLE that the "biggest surprise" for him this awards season is how "unanimous the reaction" to King Richard has been versus some of his other movies in the past. King Richard earned a total of six nominations including Best Picture.

"I've made 30 years' worth of movies and there's never been this kind of blanket agreement that it's a good movie," he said. "I've made things that, I would read opposing reviews and I'm like, 'Did they even look at the same movie?' you know, with Ali and with The Pursuit of Happyness."

The actor — who also won a SAG, BAFTA and Critics Choice Award for the role — added, "Just how many people agree that it's a good movie is a big surprise for me."

The 2022 Oscars are airing Sunday from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on ABC.

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