When the Saturday Night Live alum, 57, hosted the Academy Awards in February 2016, he devoted a portion of his monologue to the newly minted Oscar winner, 53, and his wife, 50. Ahead of that year’s show, Jada said she planned to boycott the ceremony because of the lack of diversity among the nominees.
“Jada got mad, said she’s not coming,” Rock said during his opening monologue. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
The Grown Ups star went on to target Will, who missed out on an acting nomination that year for his performance in Concussion. “It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated,” Rock said. “It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.”
Rock’s comments about Jada at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27, led to arguably the most shocking moment of the evening. The Fargo alum made a joke about the actress starring in a G.I. Jane sequel because of her buzzed head. (The Magic Mike XXL actress has alopecia.)
After the joke, Will walked on stage and slapped Rock. When he sat back down, he yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth. Keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth!”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the moment was scripted, but later in the show, the Men in Black star referenced the incident while accepting his Best Actor trophy for King Richard.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” the Philadelphia native began, visibly tearing up. “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.”
Amy Schumer, who cohosted the show with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, also made a joke about the tense moment. “Did I miss anything? There’s like a different vibe in here,” she quipped, adding that she’d been backstage taking off her Spider-Man costume. Tiffany Haddish, who was sitting nearby in the audience, gave her a fist bump for the comment.
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