‘I’ve never seen him do that’: Will Smith’s mother responds to slap

PHILADELPHIA — In an interview with a Philadelphia TV station, Will Smith’s mother addressed her son’s behavior at the 94th Annual Academy Awards.

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On Sunday, Will Smith went on stage at the awards ceremony and struck comedian Chris Rock, after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“He’s 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,” Carolyn Smith told WPVI.

Carolyn Smith was with her daughters and others at the family home in the Philadelphia suburbs to watch the award show, WPVI reported.

Less than an hour after Smith hit Rock, Smith was awarded the best actor Oscar for his role as Richard Williams, father and tennis mentor to Venus and Serena Williams. In his tearful acceptance speech, Smith talked about how he, like Williams, is fiercely protective of his family.

“I’ve had conversations with him, and it, like, really kind of broke my heart listening to the things he’s said he had to go through to get where he is,” Ellen Smith, Will’s younger sister, told WPVI.

Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock via social media early Monday, saying in part, “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.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, immediately condemned Smith’s actions, and on Monday said it had started a formal review. The academy said that violations of its conduct policy may result in suspension or expulsion from the organization, revocation of awards, or loss of eligibility for future Oscars, Reuters reported.

Smith’s mother told WPVI despite the behavior, she remains proud of her son: “I am proud of him being him.”