Britain’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said his “heart was broken” after seeing Will Smith hit comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, but praised the actor for apologizing.
“It is heart-breaking when you lose control of your emotions in that way,” Zahawi said on “BBC Breakfast.” “But I think it is important not to allow yourself to cross that line, and he apologized immediately, which is good to see.”
Smith walked on to the stage at the awards in the early hours of Monday and hit Rock — who was hosting the event — after taking offense at a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith then shouted “keep my wife’s name out your f*cking mouth.” He later apologized in his acceptance speech after he won the Oscar for Best Actor, arguing tearfully “love makes you do crazy things.”
Zahawi said the incident “was hard for [Smith] because it was someone who had made a joke about his wife and her illness.”
Rock had singled out Pinkett Smith, joking that she should be in “G.I. Jane II” because of her shaved head, a reference to the buzzcut hairstyle adopted by actress Demi Moore in the 1997 film. Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disease, and has talked about her struggles with hair loss in her YouTube series Red Table Talk.
The organization behind the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, later released a statement saying “it does not condone violence in any form.”
In a statement, the Los Angeles Police Department said it was “aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program” but that a police report had not been filed.