Jonathan Pryce ‘shocked and dismayed’ by Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars

The actor suggested the incident was the result of Smith and comedian Chris Rock’s shared ‘history’.
Jonathan Pryce ‘shocked and dismayed’ by Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars

By Elspeth Keep and Alex Green, PA Reporters

Sir Jonathan Pryce has said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars, but hopes they “get over it and come together”.

The annual ceremony on Sunday was thrown into chaos when Smith, 53, stormed the stage and slapped Rock, 57, in front of the star-studded audience, after the comic made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and her hair loss.

His actions have prompted criticism from across Hollywood while the Academy has launched a formal review into the incident.

The 94th Academy Awards – Vanity Fair Party – Los Angeles
Will Smith attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party (Doug Peters/PA)

Speaking at the premiere of espionage series Slow Horses in London, veteran stage and screen actor Sir Jonathan suggested the incident was the result of the men’s shared “history”.

He told the PA news agency: “I was as shocked and dismayed as most people. It must have been an incredible thing to have happened.

“When you see violence on the streets it is very difficult to deal with, but seeing it in that situation is bizarre.

“But I hope they get over it and come together. It was something that was based on history that existed between Chris and Will so there you go, I don’t know.”

Smith, who shortly after the altercation won the leading actor Oscar for King Richard, has issued a public apology to Rock via a statement on Instagram.

Slow Horses premiere – London
Gary Oldman at the premiere of Slow Horses (Ian West/PA)

Sir Jonathan, who was nominated for an Oscar for his turn as Pope Francis in 2019’s The Two Popes, appeared alongside Gary Oldman at the premiere.

The spy thriller, adapted from award-winning writer Mick Herron’s 2010 novel, will make its worldwide debut on April 1 on Apple TV+.

The six-episode drama follows a team of British intelligence agents who work in a dumping ground department of MI5 named Slough House.

Sir Jonathan said: “There is the le Carre version of spying and then there is this. I can’t say more entertaining but very entertaining. Let’s put it that way.”

Oldman, who stars as the leader of spies who have ended up in Slough House after making career-ending mistakes, said there is “a great deal of humour” in the series.

He added: “Interestingly enough, there was a byline from I think maybe the San Francisco Chronicle Review who categorised the show as a comedy.

“I think we walk a very fine line. I think the balance of drama and comedy is very well realised. That was one of the main concerns.

“You want to invite the audience to laugh but you don’t want to push the envelope of that too much. So finding that delicate balance.

“Jackson Lamb, the character I play, he embodies the tone of the show. And when you first meet him, he is waking up sleeping on a sofa looking pretty hungover, and he passes wind.

“That tells you immediately what kind of show and world you are in.”

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