The slap heard ‘round the world. Will Smith stunned the star-studded audience — and everyone watching at home — when he took to the stage and smacked Chris Rock across the face after the comedian made a “joke” about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss at the 2022 Oscars on Sunday, March 27.
“Jada, I love you,” the comedian said from the stage, quipping, “G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” referring to the actress’ buzzed head, as G.I. Jane star Demi Moore wore a similar style. (Pinkett Smith, 50, has often been open about losing her hair due to alopecia.)
As the camera cut to the Smiths, the King Richard star, 53 — who later won the Oscar for best actor — seemed to smile at Rock’s joke, while Pinkett Smith intensely rolled her eyes. Though it initially seemed that Smith was OK with the quip, he quickly walked onstage and slapped the Longest Yard actor, 57, across the face. Once he returned to his seat, he yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.”
“Wow. Will Smith just smacked the s–t outta me,” Rock said to the audience before returning to handing out the award for best documentary.
For his part, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum later referenced — and apologized for — the altercation in his speech when accepting his Oscar for King Richard.
“Oh, man. Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said, relating his behavior to that of Serena and Venus Williams’ father, the role he played in 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. 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, you got to pretend like that’s OK.”
The 7 Pounds actor also apologized to several people for his behavior — though not explicitly to Rock.
“I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he added. “Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
He later apologized directly to the presenter the following day in a lengthy statement. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith wrote via Instagram on March 28. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
Stars who were both in attendance and watching at home had a lot to say about the drama — from Rock’s “joke” to Smith’s slap. Scroll below to see how celebrities reacted to the incident: