Will Smith's mom says she's as surprised as anyone that her son slapped Chris Rock at Sunday's Oscars.
Carolyn Smith gave her first interview about the shocking turn of events on Hollywood's biggest night, saying she had never seen him "go off" like that in his life. Will issued a public apology on Monday evening, saying he was triggered by Rock's joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair.
"He is a very even, people person," Carolyn, 85, told WPVI-TV Philadelphia. "That's the first time I've ever seen him go off. The first time in his lifetime."
She added, "I've never seen him do that."
The King Richard star walked to the stage and slapped Rock for saying Jada could star in G.I. Jane 2 due to her shaved head. Rock was apparently unaware Jada suffers from alopecia. After the slap, Will then returned to his seat but dropped several F-bombs, yelling at Rock not to talk about his wife. Earlier in the show, co-host Regina Hall made a joke about Will and Jada's open marriage, so things were already simmering.
Despite the controversy, "I am proud of him being him," Carolyn said.
"I know how he works, how hard he works," she gushed. "I've been waiting and waiting and waiting" for him to win an Oscar after three acting nominations. "When I heard the name, I was just, 'Yes!'"
Carolyn said Will had the full support of his family going into the Oscars — and she texted the family chat first thing that morning to remind everyone to wish him luck.
She said she spoke to him Monday, amid all the headlines of the shocking show, and gave him advice to get some rest and take a vacation.
While Will said in his acceptance speech that his mom declined to attend the show in L.A. because she was watching it with her suburban Philly knitting group, she actually watched it at home with family, including Will's sisters, Ellen and Pam. Everyone was dressed to the nines for the home viewing of the awards show, footage from which was shared with the news outlet. Carolyn's home is filled with memorabilia from the Fresh Prince star's long career.
Ellen told the news outlet she's long watched her brother excel in Hollywood despite a difficult path.
"Everyone has been bullied and abused in some kind of way," in the spotlight, she said. "You really don't know what it takes to get there. I've had conversations with him and it really kind of broke my heart listening to the things he's said he had to go through to get to where he is."
In Will's apology Monday, he called himself a "work in progress."
"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive," he wrote. "My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was 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 apologized to Rock for being "out of line" as well as to the Academy, which has opened an investigation into his actions, his King Richard co-stars and the Williams family, show producers, attendees and viewers.
After Will's Oscars outburst and then Best Actor win, he attended the Vanity Fair after-party where he celebrated, including dancing for the crowd to one of his songs.