Questlove won the award for Best Documentary Feature for Summer of Soul at the 2022 Oscars, just moments after Chris Rock and Will Smith stole the show with their own controversial, unexpected onstage moment. 

On Monday (March 28), the day after the Oscars, he opened up about that “situation” while speaking to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. The 51-year-old The Roots frontman said that he actually had not fully grasped what went down because he was busy soaking in the full experience of being nominated at the Academy Awards:

“Of course, you know, that happened in the cyclone of a whole [other] situation with two very good friends of mine. And I really wasn’t aware of that, it’s weird to say, because—they tell you ahead of time, ‘This is your category!’ And so, in that moment, you’re either gonna be full of anxiety—or for me, I’ve been meditating for the last two years.

When the commercial break was happening, I was just in my ‘mmmm.’ So, when I opened my eyes, I didn’t realize, like, ‘Why is everyone so quiet?’ I literally was not present for that whole entire moment. And as I’m walking to the stage, I’m kind of putting two and two together and I realize that that was a real moment, maybe three seconds before I spoke words.

I’m just like, ‘OK, Ahmir, remember to thank your mom and your dad. So, I was not present at all. I was just in a blank space.”

More stars have also been speaking out about Will’s controversial actions —

Zoe Kravitz:

“And here is a picture of my dress at the party after the award show – where we are apparently screaming profanities and assaulting people on stage now.”

Jim Carrey:

“[I was] sickened by the standing ovation. Hollywood is just spineless en masse and it really felt like this is a really clear indication that we aren’t the cool club anymore… That insult is gonna last a very long time – you do not have the right to walk up on stage and smack somebody in the face ‘cuz they said words… [The situation] didn’t escalate, it came out of nowhere because Will has something going on inside him that’s frustrated.

I wish him the best, I really do. I don’t have anything against Will Smith.  He’s done great things. But that was not a good moment. It cast a pall over everybody’s shining moment. A lot of people worked really hard to get to that place. And to have their moment in the sun, to get their award for the really hard work they did, it is no mean feat to go through all the stuff you have to go through when you are nominated for an Oscar. It’s a gauntlet of devotion you have to do. It was such a selfish moment that cast a pall over the whole thing.”

Amy Schumer:

“But for real. Still triggered and traumatized. I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro. Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend @questlove and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in @willsmith anyway I’m still in shock and stunned and sad. Im proud of myself and my cohosts. But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed.”

Wanda Sykes:

“I just was like, ‘Is this really happening,’ and then someone showed me on the video like, ‘Yeah, he smacked Chris.’ And I just felt so awful for my friend, Chris, and it was sickening, absolutely. 

I physically felt ill and I’m still a little traumatized by it. And for them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was just like, ‘How gross is this?’ It just sends the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get exzcorted out of the building, that’s it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross.”

Jimmy Kimmel:

“In one stunning moment, the guy went from #Oscarssowhat to #Oscarssowhaaaat?!?!?! No one could have predicted the most controversial movie of 2022 would be G.I. Jane, but it was. This was the Hollywood version of your drunk uncle starting a fight, ruining the wedding and then standing up and giving a long toast to the bride and groom… Chris Rock handled it as well as he could possibly handle being slapped on stage at the Oscars. He didn’t even flinch when Will slapped him. I would have been crying so hard.

No one did anything. Nobody lifted a finger. Spider-Man was there. Aquaman was there. Catwoman, all sitting on their hands. Nobody helped Chris Rock.”

Judd Apatow:

“Hopefully whatever that was, and maybe we don’t even know all the levels of it, or the backstory of it. And hopefully everybody figures something out and hopefully it becomes a teachable moment where Will Smith an speak to people in an honest way about why that was not the way to go. And we’ll see in the coming days how he communicates, and one assumes with all he does lately with the Red Table and all of that, that we will hear a very clear expression of why that was a terrible, embarrassing, and dangerous mistake.”

Nina Dobrev:

“Someone in MY immediate family suffers from Alopecia. So with that, here are my thoughts. I like Chris, a lot. I didn’t like the joke. At all. I hope he’s okay. I like Will, a lot. I didn’t like his behavior. I don’t condone his violence. At all. I hope he’s okay. I like Jada a lot, hearing a joke at the expense of something you can’t control doesn’t feel good. People poking fun at your disease is not okay. At all. I hope she’s okay.”

BAFTA Awards via statement on what would have happened if a similar incident happened during the London-based show:

“They would be removed from the ceremony. They would not be in the buildings, so they would not physically be able to collect their award.

We do not tolerate violence of any kind. It’s just a complete red line for us.”


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