“He is a very even, people person. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him go off. First time in his lifetime… I’ve never seen him do that,” Smith told 6ABC.
Seeing him lose his cool was tough, but it didn’t take away from the moment when she watched him win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard.
“I know how he works, how hard he works,” she said. “I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. When I heard the name, I was just, ‘Yes!'”
Smith later issued a lengthy apology calling his behavior at the award show “unacceptable and inexcusable.”
“Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” he wrote. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
Smith’s behavior that night wasn’t just about standing up for his wife. During his speech, he said he and Williams are similar because they are both “fierce defenders” of their families. Defending his family wasn’t something Smith was always able to do. In his memoir, Will, he shared that he watched helplessly as his father physically abused his mother many times as a child and that he felt like a coward for not doing anything. He said during his speech that as an actor, he has had to endure abuse and “have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that‘s OK.” The moment where he walked on the stage represented him being tired of being quiet and not letting another moment pass where he didn’t defend the woman he loves.