Richard Williams, who served as the basis for Will Smith’s Oscar-winning performance in “King Richard,” has spoken about the altercation between Smith and Chris Rock at Sunday night’s ceremony.
“We don’t know all the details of what happened,” Richard Williams said via his son Chavoita LeSane to NBC News. “But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”
According to LeSane, Williams was no less surprised than anyone else when Smith walked onto the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock for joking that his wife Jada Pinkett Smith – who has alopecia – should star in a “G.I. Jane” sequel. After retaking his seat, Smith yelled “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!” twice before Rock presented the award for Best Documentary Feature.
LeSane, who has been acting as spokesperson for his father since he suffered a stroke, did not comment on Smith’s Best Actor award for portraying Williams in the film “King Richard.”
In a lengthy speech, Smith tearfully apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, without mentioning Rock.
“I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment, and I am not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me,” he told the audience at the Dolby Theatre. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like Richard Williams … but love will make you do crazy things.”
He also described Williams him as a “fierce defender” of his family, drawing a comparison between them:
“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 on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met,” he began. “I got to protect Saniyya [Sidney] and Demi [Singleton], the two actresses who played Venus and Serena.”
Smith concluded the speech by thanking the entire family. “Thank you for this moment and thank you on behalf of Richard and Oracene and the entire Williams family,” he said. “Thank you. I hope the Academy invites me back.”