As the 94th Academy Awards drew to a close, one of the night’s biggest surprises erupted: Will Smith confronting Chris Rock on stage after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. Smith received his first Academy Award for Best Actor for his part in “King Richard” just minutes later.
Will Smith made his way to the platform and smacked Rock when Rock joked that he was looking forward to a sequel to “G.I. Jane” starring Pinkett Smith.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing lips,” Smith said after returning to his seat. Many in the audience were taken aback by the interaction, with actress Lupita Nyong’o, who was seated beside Smith and could be seen on video, looking stunned. Because of the obscenity, ABC turned off the audio of the exchange, leaving viewers at home perplexed at first.
After the performance, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement saying they were “informed of an incident involving two persons during the Academy Awards program.” Rock allegedly refused to submit a police report, according to the LAPD. “If the involved party wishes for a police report to be completed at a later time, LAPD will be available to prepare an investigative report,” police added.
Early Monday, the Academy Awards stated that it “does not tolerate any sort of violence. Tonight, we are thrilled to honor the 94th Academy Award recipients, who have earned this honor from their peers and moviegoers all across the world.”
Pinkett Smith has come up about her alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. During an episode of her podcast in 2018, Pinkett Smith shared some personal details “It was terrifying when it first started,” she says of Red Table Talk. I was in the shower one day with only a handful of hair in my hands and thought to myself, “Oh my God, am I becoming bald?”
Will Smith then apologized to the Academy and his fellow Best Actor finalists when winning the prize, without addressing the earlier altercation. He described his character in “King Richard,” Richard Williams, as a “fierce defender of his family.”
Here’s the moment Chris Rock made a “G.I. Jane 2” joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, prompting Will Smith to punch him and yell, “Leave my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.” #Oscars pic.twitter.com/kHTZXI6kuL
— Variety (@Variety) March 28, 2022
“I’d like to express my regret to the Academy,” Smith remarked. “I’d want to express my regret to all of my fellow nominees. This is a lovely moment, and I’m not sobbing because I won an award. For me, it’s not about getting an award. It all comes down to being able to shine a light on everyone. Tim, Trevor, Zack, Saniyya, Demi, and Aunjanue, as well as the whole cast and crew of “King Richard,” Venus and Serena, and the entire Williams family Life imitates art. Like Richard Williams, I have the appearance of a mad father.”
During the commercial break after Smith smacked Rock, The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg tweeted footage of Smith being pulled aside and consoled by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry. Smith ultimately sat down and appeared to be wiping tears from his eyes.
During the commercial break, Will Smith is pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motion for him to brush it off. Will appears to wipe tears from his eyes as he sits back down with Jada, with Denzel comforting Jada and Will’s rep by his side. pic.twitter.com/uDGVnWrSS2
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 28, 2022
“And That’s How We Do It,” Jaden Smith, the son of Smith and Pinkett Smith, tweeted after the concert. It’s unclear whether he was talking about the smack, his father’s Best Actor award, or both.