It was the slap heard (and seen!) ‘round the world.
On Sunday, the 94th Academy Awards took place in Hollywood, gathering the biggest and brightest stars of the industry together for the year’s most anticipated event in film. But an incident that happened on stage between Chris Rock and Will Smith left everyone reeling and in shock.
While taking the stage to present an award, Chris cracked a few jokes, one of them in particular directed at Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. He said:
“Jada, I love ya. G.I, Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.”
After the comedian made the joke about Jada, Will stormed onstage and slapped Chris on the face.
Chris seemed stunned and tried to gather his wits and recover as Will went back to his seat. Will then kept hurling expletive-laden screams at Chris to “Leave my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth.”
During the commercial break, Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry were both seen having a private moment with Will. The two seemed to be calming down Will. Will’s publicist also approached him.
A source stated:
“The theater was silent after Will got up and hit Chris. No one could tell if it was staged or a joke at first. Then Will started yelling at the top of his lungs and cursing out Chris. Chris was visibly shaken and the whole theater was dead silent. It was incredibly Awkward for the whole audience. Will’s friends and team have been trying to calm him down.”
Following the shocking incident. Will was named Best Actor. In his acceptance speech for his very first Oscar, he broke down while seemingly referencing what happened:
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world… 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 gotta be able to take abuse and you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you, and. you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that’s OK.
I want to be a vessel for love… That’s what I want to do. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern.”
He ended his long speech with an apology, though he did not apologize to Chris:
“I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment, and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me, it’s about being able to shine a light on all the people..the entire cast and crew of King Richard.
Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things…. Thank you to the Academy, I hope you will have me back.”
The LAPD released a statement revealing that Chris declined to file a police report:
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined 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.”
New details emerged hours after the ceremony, with reports now suggesting that the organizers considered having Will removed after the incident:
“Behind the scenes there were a lot of people, and different voices and bifurcated opinions, weighing in on what had just happened and what was the best and quickest course of action. People were also checking that Chris Rock was okay.
Basically there were just minutes to first figure out if it was a stunt and then try and get people on the same page — including the producers, ABC, the Academy, reps who were not all in the same place or all looking at their phones in real time, and even to see if Chris wanted to press charges.
Having Will removed was definitely discussed seriously. You can’t plan for something like this and make a split-second decision that needs everyone’s buy-in, and in any iteration that would have consequences.”
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs gave an update, saying that Will and Chris had settled things:
“That’s not a problem. That’s over. I can confirm that. It’s all love. They’re brothers.”
But conflicting reports state that Will and Chris have in fact not spoken after what happened:
“In fact, we’re told the whole thing stunned Chris, who went straight to his dressing room after the slap and there has been no communication since between the two men.”
Chris reportedly went straight to his dressing room and then left the building. A source said that the comedian did not know Jada had alopecia and he “doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
Another source revealed that Chris was “still in shock” at an Oscars after-party:
“Chris was at Guy’s [Oseary] party and was having a good time. He didn’t want to let the incident with Will ruin his night out with friends.
Chris was still in shock by the whole incident and didn’t want it to become a whole thing at the party so he didn’t talk too much about it.”
As for the Academy, after releasing a statement late Sunday night which just said:
“The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
They released another statement on Monday, which held more weight:
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show.
We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”