Confrontation between Will Smith, Chris Rock shocks Oscar audience

94th Academy Awards - Show
Posted at 8:53 PM, Mar 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 00:52:34-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Oscars ground to a shocked silence after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock onstage after the comedian made a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rock was presenting the award for best documentary when the tense exchange happened.

After Rock joked to Pinkett Smith that he was looking forward to a sequel to “G.I. Jane,” Smith stood up from his seat near the stage, strode up to Rock and slapped him. After sitting back down, Smith shouted at Rock to “keep my wife's name out of your (expletive) mouth."

Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often turned to Instagram and other social media platforms to discuss the challenge of hair loss.

The moment shocked the Dolby Theatre audience and viewers at home. At the commercial break, presenter Daniel Kaluuya came up to hug Smith, and Denzel Washington escorted him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged and Tyler Perry came over to talk as well.

Not long after the incident, Smith won best actor honors for his portrayal of tennis dad Richard Williams in “King Richard."

He did not mention Rock in his apology — at least, not directly.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said as he began his acceptance speech.

He then paused, the meaning behind his choice of words clear, and teared up as he spoke about being a protector for those who worked with him on the film.

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” Smith said during his acceptance speech. “I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse. You’ve got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you've got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s OK.”