Boris Johnson slams Will Smith over Oscars slap attack on Chris Rock

Boris Johnson slams Will Smith over Oscars slap attack on Chris Rock

March 28, 2022

‘Striking someone is never the answer’: Downing Street criticises Will Smith over Oscars slap attack on Chris Rock – as Tory MP Dehenna Davison, who lost her father to a one-hit attack, accuses star of ‘promotion of violence’

  • I-Robot star hit comic for cracking bad-taste joke about wife Jada Pinkett-Smith
  • No10 spokesman said: ‘Obviously striking someone is never the answer’
  • MP Dehenna Davison said Smith using position for ‘promotion of violence’
  • Her father Dominic was killed in one-hit attack when she was a teenager in 2007

Downing Street criticised Will Smith over his Oscars slap attack on Chris Rock today, as a Tory MP accused the Independence Day star of using his platform for ‘promotion of violence’.

They spoke out after Smith hit the comic across the face for cracking a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her struggle with hair-loss condition alopecia.

Oscar bosses are said to be split over whether to take away Smith’s trophy – his first Oscar – for his role in ‘King Richard’ because the assault breaks a new code of conduct drawn up in the wake of #MeToo movement.

Asked about the assault today, Mr Johnson’s  official spokesman said he had not spoken to Boris Johnson about the matter as the PM had been ‘speaking to leaders on Ukraine’, but added: ‘On this, I think the Education Secretary was entirely right this morning – obviously striking someone is never the answer.’

Earlier, Nadhim Zahawi told LBC: ‘Violence is never the answer to any problem-solving, as Will Smith admitted himself in that tearful, heart-wrenching apology.’

Meanwhile Dehenna Davison invited Smith to Parliament to speak to a group dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of one-punch assaults.

Ms Davison, whose father Dominic was killed in such an attack when she was 13 in 2007, told Mr Smith she was a ‘huge fan’ of his work but said: ‘I was very disappointed to see you use your substantial platform not for good, but for the promotion of violence.’

They spoke out after Smith hit the Academy Awards host across the face for cracking a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her struggle with hair-loss condition alopecia.


Asked about the assault today, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: ‘On this, I think the Education Secretary was entirely right this morning – obviously striking someone is never the answer.’ Meanwhile Dehenna Davison (right) invited Smith to Parliament to speak to a group dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of one-punch assaults.

Ms Davison posted a picture of her father on Twitter after the 2019 election, dedicating the victory in Bishop Auckland to her family

She said her life was ‘turned upside down’ by her father’s death and so when she became an MP she set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on One-Punch Assaults ‘to raise awareness about single-punch assaults, and to reinforce the message that one punch can kill’.

She invited Mr Smith to speak at one of the group’s meetings and ‘to hear the stories of those who have lost loved ones to a single punch’.

‘We cannot change our past actions, but we can shape our futures, and we can choose to use our platforms for good,’ she said.

The incident overshadowed a night which saw Coda, which features a predominantly deaf cast, named best picture, while Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf male actor to win a gong and Briton Sir Kenneth Branagh won the best original screenplay prize for his semi-autobiographical film Belfast.

Smith, who won his first Academy Award for Williams sisters’ biopic King Richard, appeared to take offence to a gag Rock made about Pinkett Smith’s short haircut.

The Magic Mike XXL star and Red Table Talk host has previously spoken about her struggles with alopecia and said it is what prompted her to shave her head.

Referring to Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, Rock said: ‘Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2’, prompting the actress to roll her eyes.

However, Smith walked up on stage and appeared to hit Rock before returning to his seat and shouting twice: ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.’

The altercation left Rock shocked and flustered as he tried to resume presenting the best documentary feature category.

The incident cast a cloud over Smith’s acceptance speech for his first ever Oscar, after he was named best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Smith apologised to both the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock, as he collected his gong, joking that he ‘looks like the crazy father.’

Breaking down in tears, he said: ‘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.’

He added: ‘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 have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s OK.’

He added: ‘I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise 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 shine a light on all of the people.’

He continued: ‘Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things.’

After paying tribute to his mother and his family he added: ‘Thank you for this honour, thank you for this moment…I hope the Academy invites me back.’

The Academy later said that it did not ‘condone violence of any form’.

A tweet on the official Academy account said: ‘The Academy does not condone violence of any form.

‘Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.’

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