Will Smith's Oscar Speech Addresses Chris Rock Spat—Read Full Transcript

Will Smith had all eyes on him for more reasons than one on Sunday, when he accepted the Best Actor Oscar after slapping Chris Rock in the face onstage.

The actor won the coveted prize for his efforts in King Richard, the critically-acclaimed biopic in which he portrayed Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.

And the night proved to be one of polar highs and lows, as his first ever acting Academy Award was presented to him several minutes after he struck Rock in the face, in reaction to a joke the comedian made about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

As Rock took to the stage to present the Best Documentary Award, he quipped: "Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," referring to her shaved head.

While he initially laughed along with the joke, Smith soon ascended the stage to deliver a blow to Rock, before returning to his seat, from which he bellowed: "Keep my wife's name out your f****** mouth!"

Later in the evening, as he accepted his award, Smith acknowledged the incident, before apologizing to the Academy and his fellow nominees.

Will Smith
Will Smith accepts the Actor in a Leading Role award for ‘King Richard’ onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. Earlier in the show, he was seen striking comedian Chris Rock in the face after taking umbrage to one of his jokes. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Will Smith's Oscars speech in full

"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 me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect, Aunjanue Ellise Ellis, who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I've ever met, I got to protect Saniyya [Sidney] and Demi [Singleton], the two actresses that play Venus and Serena.

"I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you've got to be able to take abuse, you've got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you've got to be able to have people disrespecting you, and you've got to smile and you've got to pretend like that's OK...

"Denzel [Washington] said to me a few minutes ago, he said, 'At your highest moment, be careful. That's when the devil comes for you.' It's like, I want to be a vessel for love.

"I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena—I just spit, I hope they didn't see that on TV—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 of that kind of love and care and concern.

"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, it's about being able to a shine light on all of the people... and the entire cast and crew [for] King Richard, and Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family.

"Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said. But love will make you do crazy things... This moment is really complicated for me but to my mother. She didn't want to come out. She has her knitting friends. She has a knitting crew that she's in Philly watching with.

"Being able to love and care for my mother, my family, my wife. I'm taking up too much time. Thank you for this honor, thank you for this moment, and thank you on behalf of Richard and Oracene and the entire Williams family, thank you. Hoping the Academy invites me back. Thank you."

Will Smith and Chris Rock
Will Smith (R) slaps US Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022. Smith objected to a joke that Rock had cracked at the expense of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images