*Will Smith is now “going to have to work hard to kind of redeem himself,” says one Academy member following Sunday’s slap incident at the Oscars.
As reported earlier, during the show, Chris Rock made a joke about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss. The actress suffers from alopecia, so Will was not amused that Rock mocked her for this. The veteran actor walked on stage and slapped the comedian before returning to his seat in the audience and yelling “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!”
“Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke,” said Rock — to which Will replied once again, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!”
“I’m going to, okay?” Rock replied, before adding, “That was the … greatest night in the history of television”.
According to TMZ, Rock had no idea Jada suffers from alopecia.
“It’s so unfortunate,” one member of the Academy tells PEOPLE of the incident.
“The first thing we teach our children is use your words and not your hands, and that was a brutal display of unbridled anger. And there was no excuse for it,” the Academy member adds. “It has tarnished him.”
Smith went on to win Best Actor for “King Richard” at the Oscars ceremony, and he apologized to the Academy during his acceptance speech, saying, “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
“He’s regarded with enormous respect. He has worked hard and he championed this project which is an extraordinary story and his portrayal is Oscar-worthy. But this taints everything,” the insider adds. “And that’s unfortunate. He should have shown greater restraint.”
“It was supposed to be the moment when he was elevated to join the ranks of people like Denzel Washington. And maybe one day to be thought of in the same breath as like a Sidney Poitier,” NPR TV critic Eric Deggans tells PEOPLE. “You know, somebody who’s not just a popular actor, but considered a very skilled actor, and a sterling example of the best Black actor out there.”
“And he ruined that. That is not going to happen.”
“That’s what’s so sad about this, that he thought, in that moment, that he was asserting himself, but what he really was doing was tearing down his own legacy.”