When Will Smith went on stage at the Oscars and punched Chris RockThe unpredictable moment served as a jarring interruption for the celebration of Hollywood, because although at first it was said that everything was armed, it was later learned that the histrion was really furious at the comedian’s lack of respect for his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
But once Smith returned moments later to accept his first Academy Award, he tearfully apologized for an act sure to overshadow his landmark achievement. He took the opportunity during Sunday night’s awards to talk about being a fierce defender, much like his tennis father, “King Richard” character Richard Williams.
Will Smith felt like the protector of many, including his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, after Rock made a joke about his appearance that did not sit well with him and that his wife’s honor was worth much more to the actor than herself. Oscar nomination.
“Richard Williams was a fierce supporter of his family,” Smith said as he began his acceptance speech after winning best actor honors. He later apologized to many people, including tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, the daughters of Richard Williams, but did not mention Rock in his apology.
The long-time Hollywood actor then spoke about being a protector to those who worked with him on the film, including Aunjanue Ellis along with Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton, the two actresses who played Venus and Serena.
“I am called in my life to love people and protect people and be a river to my people,” Smith said during his acceptance speech after winning his first Oscar. “I know that to do what we do you have to be able to take abuse. You have to be able to make people talk madly about you. In this business, you have to be able to make people disrespect you. And you have to smile and pretend that’s okay,” she said through tears.
The exchange began with Rock pointing to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head and saying, “Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2,’ I can’t wait to see it, okay? Rock’s reference was taken from the 1997 movie “GI Jane,” which starred Demi Moore, who shaved her head to play a fictional Navy Seal candidate.
For those who don’t know Jada Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that he was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.
The viral slap
Smith walked onto the stage from his ringside seat and smacked Rock with an open palm, generating a loud bang. Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a “GI Jane” joke, and Smith yelled at him a second time.
Smith yelled at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth,” and the crowd fell silent when it became clear that this was not an act, prompting the networks to do their thing by questioning the actor’s reaction.
The moment shocked the Dolby Theater audience and viewers at home. In the commercial break, host Daniel Kaluuya walked over to give Smith a hug, and Denzel Washington walked him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged each other and Tyler Perry came over to talk as well.
Smith shared what Washington told him: “At your highest, be careful because that’s when the devil is coming for you.”
“I hope the Academy invites me back,” said Will Smith, at the end of his comments on stage, where the audience applauded, while others remained serious, because they recorded the slap he gave the comedian who tried to liven up the most important film gala.
A representative for Rock did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
After the show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement saying it “does not condone violence in any form.”
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement that it was aware of the incident.
“The incident involved one individual slapping another,” the statement said. “The individual involved has refused to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
“That was the best night in the history of television,” Rock said before resuming his role as host.
A few minutes later, rapper Sean Combs, onstage to host a tribute to “The Godfather,” attempted to play peacemaker and suggested that Smith and Rock work out their differences at an Oscars after-party.
“Will and Chris, we’re going to work that out as a family at the Gold party,” Combs said.
The reverberations did not stop there. Smith and Pinkett Smith were approached by several people in the commercial breaks that followed; Keith Urban hugged Smith during a break in the show and Nicole Kidman also leaned over to say a few words.
Backstage during the interview sessions with the winners, the Rock-Smith incident seemed like something that few, if any, wanted to discuss, as it went viral immediately, as this type of situation had never occurred in the gala.
“That’s not what I’m talking about,” said Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the director of “Summer of Soul,” which won an Oscar for best documentary.
The confrontation overshadowed Smith’s historic achievement. Previously, he was nominated twice for best actor, for his role in “Ali” in 2002 and “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007. In those films, he played real-life characters: boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Chris Garner. , a homeless vendor. .
This time, Smith won against formidable competition that included Andrew Garfield, Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch and Denzel Washington, who won his first and only best actor Oscar in 2002 over Smith for “Training Day.”
Pinkett Smith was also the butt of Rock’s jokes when he hosted the Oscars in 2016. She did not attend the Oscars that year and said at the time that her decision was due to a lack of diversity among award nominees and because black performers they were not adequately represented.
“I think sometimes we have to remember, like at a certain point, everyone snaps,” said television personality Karamo Brown. “But I think these are two guys who will really come together and figure it out and say ‘OK, enough is enough, I’m sorry.’ … I have not been in that situation. I never condone violence or anything of that nature, but I could also understand protecting the ones you love.”
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