At Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, Will Smith shocked the room by approaching the stage and slapping presenter Chris Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock was on the Oscars stage presenting the category for best documentary. He began by making a few jokes about the audience members, including Pinkett Smith, referring to her as “G.I. Jane” due to her closely cropped hair. (Pinkett Smith has spoken in the past about her battle with alopecia.) Shortly after he made the joke, Smith walked to the stage and slapped Rock across the face. He then returned to his seat and shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
During the live telecast, it was unclear if the assault was a planned bit. The audio immediately cut out after Smith slapped Rock, then skipped ahead a few seconds to appear as though Rock had carried on presenting the award, which went to Questlove for Summer of Soul. In uncensored footage of the show, Rock can be heard saying, “Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,” as Smith walks away. “Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke.”
Per Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Ford, Denzel Washington pulled Smith to the side for a conversation after the exchange, kneeling alongside Pinkett Smith. An Academy librarian also confirmed to VF’s Joy Press that this was likely the first time there had been real violence onstage at the ceremony.
This story is developing.
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