Will Smith, who is up for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his performance in King Richard, got on stage and struck stand-up comedian Chris Rock in the face after he made a joke about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had made a joke about Jada’s buzzed hair, saying that he couldn’t wait to see her star in a sequel to G.I. Jane.
Smith seemed to hit Rock, who said: “wow, Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” There was nervous laughter in the audience, before Smith shouted from his seat: “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”. Rock replied: “wow dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke”.
Sean Combs, the next presenter, addressed the situation and told, "Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this like family. Right now we’re moving on with love. Everybody make some noise."
Roughly 15 seconds of audio was cut from the national broadcast but can be heard below in a now-viral clip.
Shortly after the moment, Smith’s publicist came to visit his table and seemingly calm the star down. It will go down as one of the most shocking moments in Oscars history.
In footage shared below, Denzel Washington appears to comfort Smith after the ordeal, attempting to help the star brush off the event. To cap it all off, Smith went on to pick up the award for Best Actor.
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
Delivering what has to be one of the most memorable Oscar speeches of all time, Will Smith made reference to the previous event and apologised to the Academy.
Pinkett-Smith was diagnosed with the hair loss condition alopecia in 2018. The actress has spoken openly about her diagnosis on her social media accounts and in interviews.