Combination picture showing Will Smith hiting Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards. Reuters
This year’s Oscars featured shocks, sighs and surprises – but all anyone will care about is a slap. The Academy Awards took place on Sunday night (27 March), with films including The Power of the Dog, West Side Story, Licorice Pizza and Coda battling it out in the big categories.
The biggest story of the night had almost nothing to do with the awards: a shocking altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock sparked by a joke about Smith’s wife Jada.
In a moment that initially looked like one of the gags that enliven the Oscars telecast, Smith strode up to the stage and delivered an open-handed slap to Rock after the presenter made the joke.
But it swiftly became clear the moment was in fact unscripted when Smith, who had returned to his seat, exchanged words with Rock that included a twice-repeated obscenity, shocking the audience at the Dolby Theatre.
Smith slapped Rock following the comedian's reference to the 1997 movie "G.I. Jane," in which actress Demi Moore shaved her head. The comment was directed at Smith's wife, who told Billboard in December she has been battling the autoimmune disorder alopecia, which can cause hair loss and balding.
Back in his seat, Smith shouted back, "Keep my wife's name out of your f****** mouth." The comment was silenced during the live US broadcast.
It undoubtedly overshadowed the night as a whole, and notably – about half an hour later – Smith’s win the Best Actor Oscar for King Richard. Through tears, Smith called himself “a vessel of love” and apologised to the Academy, but not Rock. The LAPD confirmed that Rock is not pressing charges. The Academy said it “does not condone violence of any form.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced it is opening an investigation into Will Smith’s conduct during the Oscars ceremony.
The actor is among the latest in a line of celebrities who have weighed in on the dramatic moment, which took place after Rock joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, referring to her as “GI Jane”.
The Internet is abuzz with Oscars news. Who won, who lost, and who got snubbed were overshadowed by one solitary moment: when Will Smith got onstage and — to the shock of everyone present and watching — smacked Chris Rock
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