Welp, that was intense.
What the heck just happened? That’s what fans asked themselves after, in the middle of Chris Rock’s 2022 Oscars presenter introduction, Will Smith flew out of his seat and seemed to slap the comedian. A few seconds of silence followed as ABC tried to bleep out cursing. Let’s figure out what went down in Chris Rock and Will Smith’s apparent Oscars fight. (Elite Daily has reached out to reps for both parties for comment on the incident, but did not hear back at the time of publication.)
First, some context. Chris Rock first hosted the Oscars in 2005, delivering brutal jokes that probably kept the Academy from inviting him back until 2016. Then during his 2016 hosting gig, he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who said she was boycotting the ceremony due to the lack of diversity among the nominees. He made fun of Pinkett Smith’s announcement, saying, “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
Rock’s Oscars appearance this time in 2022 once again came with a joke at Pinkett Smith’s expense. Rock started riffing on the appearance of some of the attendees and, seeing Pinkett Smith’s shaved-head look, he announced he was looking forward to G.I. Jane II. (This is a total ’90s reference; the first G.I. Jane starred Demi Moore in 1997, and the press made a big deal over her buzzed head.)
Pinkett Smith did not look amused by the joke. But Smith was furious. He flew out of his seat, walked right on stage, and appeared to hit Rock full in the face.
So, WTF actually happened? During the American broadcast, the next 30 seconds were frozen and silent, but the broadcast did not cut away in Japan. The video appears to show Rock being struck full force (and viewers can hear what sounds like a smack from Smith’s open hand), and it didn’t appear to be planned. Rock then said, according to the uncensored clip from the Japan broadcast shared on Twitter, “Wow! Wow. Will Smith just smacked the sh*t out of me.”
Smith returned to his seat, but he wasn’t finished. At the top of his lungs, per the Japanese broadcast video, he yelled to Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth.” When Rock stuttered that it was just a G.I. Jane joke, Smith repeated himself, louder and more forcefully. Rock, stunned, quickly dropped it.
What fans might not know is that Rock tripped on a sensitive subject for the Smith family. Pinkett Smith previously revealed she’s been diagnosed with alopecia, and that it’s been a long journey for her to accept her hair loss. As a result, she has struggled with her new appearance. So, her Oscars hairdo isn’t just a fashion statement; it may be the direct effect of her condition.
When Smith won the Best Actor Oscar a few minutes following the incident, he revealed that at the commercial break, Denzel Washington, a fellow nominee, told him to take a breath and that “at your highest moment, that’s when the devil comes for you.” Smith then apologized for his actions — although not to Rock directly — as he thanked the Academy.
Following the live broadcast, the Academy released a statement referencing Smith’s actions, noting it does not condone violence.
Although the moment was genuinely shocking, it seems like someone may smooth it over. When Diddy took the stage as a presenter following the smack heard ’round the world, he promised Smith and Rock, “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that at the Gold Party,” referencing the Oscars after-party hosted by Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Whether that happened remains to be seen.
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