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Oscars 2022: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock over Jada Pinkett Smith joke

“Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,” Rock told the audience

By Angie Martoccio

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock live onstage at the Oscars 2022
(L-R) Chris Rock and Will Smith are seen onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. CREDIT: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

In what may be the most insane moment in the history of the Academy Awards, Will Smith jumped onstage and smacked Chris Rock while the comedian was presenting the Best Documentary at the 2022 Oscars.

The unscripted moment arrived after the comedian joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, a symptom of alopecia. “Jada, love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock said, before the actress rolled her eyes. Will appeared to laugh at the joke at first but then walked up onstage. After Rock said “Uh oh,” Smith hit Rock before returning to his seat.

There was a loud noise when Smith hit Rock, with people in the audience assuming it was a skit and some claiming that Smith’s slap amounted to a full-on criminal assault. “The whole place was stunned,” said one attendee. Rock told the audience, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.”

The sound was cut from the televised broadcast, but Smith yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Rock said, “Wow dude, it was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke,” before Will repeated the admonition. Rock would go on to say, “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”

Last December, Jada spoke about her alopecia on Instagram, writing, “Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something. Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”

This isn’t the first time Rock has joked about the couple. When he hosted the Oscars in 2016, he said, “Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties — I wasn’t invited!”

Footage shows Tyler Perry and Denzel Washington comforting Smith moments after the feud, with Smith appearing to wipe his eyes. Smith later revealed during his acceptance for the Best Actor that Washington told him, “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

Immediately following the incident, Rock announced that the Questlove-directed Summer of Soul won the award. Backstage, a reporter asked Questlove about the vibe in the room when he started his speech. “I’m not talking about that,” Questlove said, staring straight ahead and appearing to be frustrated. “This is about the Harlem Cultural Festival.” A rep for the Academy told reporters, “I caution you to not ask questions regarding anything else other than the people on stage.”

Later, Smith won Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams in King Richard, (the film received six nominations total). He approached the stage with a smile, appearing to reference the incident. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. 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,” Smith said. “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, 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 OK.

“I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he added. “Art imitates life; I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things …I hope the Academy invites me back.”

Early Monday morning, a spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that Rock declined to press charges against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will available to complete an investigative report.”

Additional reporting by Nancy Dillon and Tatiana Siegel