When Will Smith took the Dolby Theatre Sunday night as he won his first-ever Oscar — Best Actor in a Motion Picture for playing Venus and Serena Williams’ dad Richard in “King Richard” — it wasn’t as he planned.
Earlier that night, after comedian Chris Rock insulted his wife Jada Pinkett Smith while presenting an award, Smith stormed the stage, slapped the comic and yelled “Get my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.”
The room was shocked into silence.
When he won Best Actor, Smith apologized.
“I know to do what we do,” he said in tears, “you gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you… You gotta smile and pretend like that’s OK.”
He went on: “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all the other nominees.”
The wild scene leading up to his victory comes 20 years after his first Best Actor nomination, for “Ali,” and 32 years since “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” debuted on TV.
The shocking moment Sunday almost felt appropriate. Because the long-awaited win for 53-year-old Smith is the last stop of a bonkers last several months he’s endured on the way to his prestigious prize.
It’s been one of the most bizarre precursors to an even more bizarre Oscar speech witnessed in recent memory. Last fall, Smith released a memoir revealing intimate details about his sex life with wife Jada Pinkett Smith and other women. On a fitness YouTube series he admitted he harbored suicidal thoughts. And during a magazine interview, Smith said he dreamed of having a “harem” of famous women.
Can’t recall Anthony Hopkins or Daniel Day Lewis ever doing any of that.
In his 432-page book published in November, called “Will,” Smith confided that for a time he would sometimes vomit after orgasming.
The gross habit began after an early breakup with a girlfriend named Melanie, when Smith said he went “full ghetto hyena” with the ladies.
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“I had sex with so many women, and it was so constitutionally disagreeable to the core of my being, that I developed a psychosomatic reaction to having an orgasm,” he wrote.
“It would literally make me gag and sometimes even vomit.”
When he began dating Pinkett in the late ‘90s, he said that the courtship was instantly sexually charged.
“We drank every day, we had sex multiple times every day for four straight months,” he wrote. “I started to wonder if this was a competition. Either way, as far as I was concerned, there were only two possibilities: I was going to satisfy this woman sexually or I was going to die trying.”
Later in November, in an extremely personal GQ cover interview, Smith announced that he and Pinkett Smith now have an open marriage and that the institution for them “can’t be a prison.”
“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way,” he said.
He also controversially told the magazine that he used to desire having a “harem” of women.
“I don’t know where I saw it or some s–t as a teenager, but the idea of traveling with 20 women that I loved and took care of and all of that, it seemed like a really great idea,” he told GQ, adding that the fantasy group would include Halle Berry and Misty Copeland.
The same month, he appeared in a six-part YouTube series called “The Best Shape of My Life,” in which he lost 20 pandemic-added pounds in 20 weeks, the actor unexpectedly confided that he once became suicidal.
“When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life physically, but mentally I was somewhere else,” the sobbing actor says in a scene to his mom, Pinkett Smith, son Jaden, 23, and daughter Willow, 21. “I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself. That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide.”
The last four months have been some of the most tumultuous of Smith’s public life — capped off by one of the happiest moments of his career.