Richard Williams has declared he "stands by" Will Smith after the actor slapped host Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
The Hollywood actor won an Oscar for playing Richard in acclaimed biopic 'King Richard' at last year's Academy Awards, but the event was blighted by an incident earlier in the evening when Smith stormed the stage and belted Rock after the comedian mocked his wife Jada Pinkett Smith - and now the movie's subject has spoken out in his defence.
Richard - who is dad to tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams - appeared on TV show 'Good Morning Britain' on Monday (06.03.23) and declared: "I'll always stand by him."
He added of Smith: "I think he has done the best thing he needed to do, but I would never be disgusted with Mr Smith. Matter of fact, I appreciate Mr Smith."
When asked whether he could see "any wrong" in what Smith did at the 2022 Oscars, Richard said: "I don't see nothing wrong with him ... No one should criticise a person on and on and on. So I think he's done extremely well and I really appreciate him very, very well. I really welcome him."
After the incident, Smith was banned from attending the Oscars ceremony or any related events for the next 10 years, but Richard is adamant the punishment should be lifted. He explained: "It [the ban] definitely should be lifted. It should be just one day or no more than a week at most."
When asked if he felt sorry for Rock, Richard declared: "No. I don't feel sorry for no one ... I don't give a damn what no one says good or bad about me. I'm always good about myself," before adding: "It's time for everyone to forgive Will Smith".
He finished by joking: "'I'll say my message to Mr Smith right now. Thank you very much for being so good-looking, so handsome!"
Richard's defence of Smith comes just days after Rock spoke out about the incident for the first time during his 'Selective Outrage' stand-up show in Baltimore, Maryland which was streamed live on Netflix over the weekend.
During his turn on stage, Rock joked: "Everybody knows, yes it happened, I got slapped a year ago – I got smacked by this m***********. And people are like, ‘Did it hurt?’ It still hurts. I’ve got 'Summertime' ringing in my ears."
He also accused Smith of "practicing selective outrage" and made reference to Jada's 2020 public confession that she had had an "entanglement" with singer August Alsina while she and her husband were on a break.
Rock said: "Will Smith practices selective outrage. Everybody knows what the f*** happened. And everybody really knows I had nothing to do with that s***. I didn’t have any 'entanglements' ...
"Everybody in here has been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television … She hurt him way more than he hurt me."