Will Smith won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father and coach of famed tennis players Venus and Serena Williams in the biographical sports drama “King Richard” at the Academy Awards 2022. He was also nominated for best film for the movie, that he has co-produced.
A teary-eyed Smith took to the stage, breaking down several times during his acceptance speech that came not too long after a heated controversy with presenter and comic Chris Rock.
"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said through tears.
"Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."
He beat nominees Javier Bardem ("Being the Ricardos"), Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Power of the Dog"), Andrew Garfield ("tick, tick...BOOM!") and Denzel Washington ("The Tragedy of Macbeth") to win the top prize.
Smith received his award from actors Samuel L Jackson, John Travolta and Uma Thurman.
Not long before he earned his golden statuette, Smith sparked controversy at the gala by storming onstage and slapping Chris Rock, who was presenting, for a joke about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Following the heated exchange in which Will Smith threw profanities at Rock for a GI Jane joke on the actor's wife for her closely shaved head (she has opened up about her alopecia), he was comforted by a few colleagues including Denzel Washington, a fellow nominee.
During his speech, Smith said that Washington had a piece of advice for him sometime back.
“At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,” Smith said quoting Washington.
"I'm hoping the Academy invites me back," Will Smith concluded his emotional speech on a lighter note.
Earlier, Smith had been nominated for “Ali” in 2002 and the “Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007. The 53-year-old actor had already bagged the Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards for his performance and was the top contender to take the Oscar home this year.