Will Smith stunned the audience when he stormed the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
On the Oscars stage, Rock was presenting the best documentary category. He started by making jokes about the audience members, including Pinkett Smith, who he referred to as “G.I. Jane” because of her short hair. (Pinkett Smith has already spoken up about her baldness.) Smith walked to the stage shortly after making the joke and slapped Rock across the face. “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” he said as he returned to his seat.
When I first watched the show, I couldn’t tell if the assault was staged. However, as Smith slapped Rock, the show’s audio dropped out instantly, then remained muted as Rock stated, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,” as Smith walked away. “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” Smith exclaimed as he returned to his seat.
“Wow, buddy,” Rock responded. “It was a G.I. Jane joke,” says the narrator.
After then, Rock presented Questlove, the filmmaker of Summer of Soul, with the documentary prize. Following that, Sean “Diddy” Combs took the stage to unveil a clip montage honoring The Godfather’s 50th anniversary. “I had no idea this year would be the most exciting Oscars ever!” he exclaimed. “All right, Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this as a family.” But for the time being, we’re moving forward with love.”
Denzel Washington drew Smith to the side for a talk following the exchange, according to Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Ford, kneeling alongside Pinkett Smith when the show returned from the commercial break. During the commercial break, Tyler Perry joined Washington and Smith. According to Ford, the Smiths had been holding hands since the incident.
According to VF’s Joy Press, an Academy librarian stated that this was possibly the first time the event had seen real violence onstage. Rock, on the other hand, was not the first to make jokes about Pinkett Smith at the Oscars. During the 2016 ceremony, which Rock hosted, he made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s famous boycott of the event. At the time, Rock added, “Jada’s boycotting the Oscars is like my boycotting Rihanna’s underwear.” “I didn’t get an invitation.”
Smith is competing for the best actor award at this year’s Academy Awards. Because of his performance in the biopic King Richard, he has been regarded a front runner for months.