Over the years there have been quite a few eyebrow-raising and jaw-dropping moments at the Oscars. As the biggest night for films, some things have caught fans off guard, but nothing quite like Will Smith’s physical altercation with Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards.
Comedian Chris Rock, 57, took the stage to introduce the award for Best Documentary, but opened up his segment by making some jokes about some of the famous couples in the audience. After a dig at couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, who were both up for awards that night, Rock then joked, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see ya.” Seemingly referencing Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, while Smith laughed, Jada was not impressed as she has been open about her struggle with the autoimmune disorder alopecia (which attacks hair follicles resulting in bald spots and hair loss).
Smith, 53, then walked up to the stage where he smacked Rock across the face. After sitting down he yelled repeatedly, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!”
“Oh wow,” said a seemingly taken-aback Rock as Smith made his way back to his seat. “Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me.”
“Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke,” said Rock — to which Smith replied once again, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!”
“I’m going to, okay?” Rock replied, before going on to say, “That was the … greatest night in the history of television” and moving on to presenting the award.
Later in the evening, Will Smith went on to win his first ever Oscar after being named Best Actor for his performance as Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard.
Smith’s acceptance speech was very emotional as he seemed to address the earlier altercation with Rock, but did not apologize to the comedian directly. Smith said through tears, “In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. … I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.”
“I know to do what we do you gotta be able to take abuse; you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you, and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s okay.”
He compared himself to his King Richard character, who was a “fierce defender of his family.”
Smith also shared that Denzel Washington told him minutes before his win that “at your highest moments, be careful because that’s when the devil comes for you.”
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said.
Smith then joked, “Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
He later added, “Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife … Thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. … I hope the Academy invites me back.”
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022