'Unless it’s self-defense': Richard Williams does NOT condone Will Smith slapping Chris Rock

The real King Richard distances himself from Will Smith's viral actions at the 94th Academy Awards but refused to openly denounce the actor


                            'Unless it’s self-defense': Richard Williams does NOT condone Will Smith slapping Chris Rock
Richard Williams (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) and a screenshot of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock (Twitter)
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Needless to say, Will Smith has made a lot of enemies after slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards. There's now a rumor that the actor could be stripped of the Oscar he earned for Best Actor over the incident. It's unclear if the Academy will go so far, but clearly, it's a move some people seem to support. 

One thing we do know for sure is that Smith won't face any police action because Rock has refused to press charges. The incident, now being dubbed 'slapgate' has earned the actor the ire of not just the internet, but also celebrities like Howard Stern. Others, including one Wikipedia editor, saw the funny side of the incident, and have now turned slapgate into the latest viral meme. 

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But while widespread condemnation for Smith continues, it appears not everyone is eager to slam the actor. For example, Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, and the inspiration for the 'King Richard' movie that landed Smith his first-ever Oscar had a vastly different take.

Will Smith in a still from 'King Richard' (IMDb)

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Richard Williams distances himself from slapagate

Speaking to NBC News via his son Chavoita LeSane, Williams said, "We don’t know all the details of what happened, but we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense." LeSane added that his father was just as surprised as everyone else when Smith slapped Rock, but it appears Williams wasn't going to take a side, at least not yet. The 80-year-old also refused to comment on Smith's apology, which he issued after he won the Oscar an hour after slapping Rock. 

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Smith called out Williams in his acceptance speech, saying, "I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things." At the time, social media users slammed the actor for attempting to win fans over with his words. Both Serena and Venus too have so far refused to comment on slapgate, but whether they like it or not, their names are now tied forever to the incident. 

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While the two sisters refused to say anything, Serena did react on social media. Moments after Smith slapped Rock, she uploaded a video on Instagram, with her mouth open in stunned silence. A second video moments later saw the tennis ace say "I just sat down, because I was like, I gotta put that drink down.”


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Smith won his first-ever Oscar for his portrayal of Richard Williams in 'King Richard', a movie about Williams' efforts to turn Venus and Serena into tennis stars. The film was nominated for six academy awards, including Best Picture, but only ended up with one win — Smith for Best Actor. Just an hour after Smith slapped Rock, he went on stage to accept the award, and later that night was caught dancing at the after-party, surrounded by a host of celebrities. 

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Slapgate is highly unlikely to die down anytime soon, with the Academy now launching a formal investigation into the incident. It's likely to mar the triumph of 'King Richard', which has otherwise been extremely well-received by critics and award shows. Smith has also bagged the Best Actor award at the African-American Film Critics Association, Black Reel Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Critics' Choice Movie Awards.

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