What just happened at the 94th Academy Awards? The world witnessed Will Smith smacking stand-up comedian and actor Chris Rock on stage while the latter was presenting the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Since the Oscar moment is unbelievably flabbergasting, one must be wondering what motivated Will Smith to punch a fellow artist. Let’s dig to understand what made Smith so furious.
Why Did Will Smith Slap Chris Rock?
As the Oscars 2022 was progressing, Chris Rock came onto the stage to present the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. While presenting the award, Chris Rock joked about Smith’s wife and actress Jada Pinkett Smith being in ‘G.I. Jane’ because of her shaved head. Soon after he was interrupted by Will Smith, who climbed to the stage and slapped him on his face. “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me!” Rock said to the audience right after the incident. “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”, Smith shouted to Rock after punching him.
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022
Will Smith was awarded Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in ‘King Richard‘ and the actor apologized for his action in his Oscar-acceptance speech. “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said. Smith also addressed the incident in his acceptance speech and added that he was protecting his family.
“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 got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that’s okay,” he added.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
After the incident, Smith’s publicist Meredith O. Sullivan, Oscar producer Will Packer, and fellow nominee Denzel Washington talked to Smith during the commercial break. “Thank you, Dee. Denzel said a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,’” Smith Revealed what Denzel said to him during the break. “I hope the Academy invites me back,” he also said with respect to the incident.
Smith’s wife and actress Jada Pinkett Smith had shaved her head after suffering from alopecia. “Now at this point, I can only laugh… y’all know I’ve been struggling with alopecia. Just all of a sudden, one day…it just showed up like that. Now, this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So, I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions…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!” the actress said in an Instagram post.
As far as the real reason goes, there are also several theories out there. One of them is Smith’s motivation to slap Rock might not be limited to the joke Rock made this year. Rock did target Jada and Smith while hosting the Oscars 2016, which might have led the actor to carry grudge against the comedian. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited. That’s not an invitation I would turn down, but I understand, I’m not hating,” Rock said in his opening monologue back in 2016.
In the same 2016 monologue, Rock also joked about Smith. “It’s not fair that Will was this good [in ‘Concussion’] and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West. Okay!” he added. Even though years have passed since then, Smith’s reaction can also be due to his intolerance against targeting himself or his wife again.
After the incident, LAPD confirmed that Chris Rock decided against filing a police report concerning the altercation. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. 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 be available to complete an investigative report,” the LAPD statement reads.
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