Not since La La Land was mistakenly given the Academy Award for Best Film in 2017 has the Oscars known drama like the Will Smith/Chris Rock slap. The comedian was presenting the award for Best Documentary when he joked that Will Smith’s wife Jada was starring in G.I. Jane 2 because of her shaved head... And then chaos ensued.
An insensitive joke since Jada suffers from alopecia, Will Smith then stormed the stage and chucked a seriously powerful open palm swing across Chris Rock’s face. At first nervous laughter filled the room, before Hollywood’s elite realised the altercation wasn’t part of a skit.
Initially, this picture of Nicole Kidman went viral, until it was revealed that the picture was taken not as she watched the slap, but earlier in the evening when she set eyes on Jessica Chastain (we had the same reaction to Jessica's jaw-dropping Gucci gown). However, the picture still encapsulates how many of us felt watching the evening's events.
When Will Smith returned to his seat, Lupita Nyong'o appeared to go through four stages of enlightenment. As he began yelling at Chris Rock to ‘keep my wife’s name out your f**king mouth,’ the Black Panther actress nervously chuckled along before her smile was replaced by confusion as the yelling continued. She then realised it was serious and quickly attempted to keep her composure with a deadpan play-it-cool pose.
Elsewhere, Bradley Cooper and Denzel Washington were seen hugging Smith on the side of the stage after the outburst, while Sienna Miller was overheard telling her date at the Vanity Fair party, 'I hope you would do the same for me.'
Online, many celebs took to social media to have their say on arguably the most dramatic showbiz content of 2022.
Will’s son Jaden tweeted (and quickly deleted): ‘And That’s How We Do It,’ after his father delivered the slap, before replacing the comment with ‘My Dads speech made me cry.’
But others were less impressed with Will's behaviour. Zoe Kravitz posted an Instagram of her red carpet look with the caption, 'here's a picture of my dress at the award show where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now'.
'It's never OK to punch a comedian,' said Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. 'If you really want to hurt a comedian, don't laugh. That hurts way more than a punch, I promise you.'
Comedian Kathy Griffin wrote: ‘Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theatres.’
Isla Fisher showed support for Chris Rock by posting a picture of him to her Instagram stories with the hashtag #comedylegend. Meanwhile, Jodie Turner-Smith was cringed out about the whole ordeal, writing: ‘I have secondhand embarrassment for all involved.’
'I was sickened by the standing ovation,' said Jim Carrey, in reference to the audience reaction when Will Smith received his Oscar shortly after the attack. 'Hollywood is just spineless en masse and it felt like this is a really clear indication that we aren't the cool club anymore.'
And author of Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo, added with disappointment: ‘What a thing to wake up to. Only the fifth black man in nearly 100 years to win an Oscar for male lead, and the first in 16 years, resorts to violence instead of utilising the power of words to slay Chris Rock. Then he claims God and Love made him do it.’
On the red carpet, many fans pointed out that the drama appeared to have made Liam Payne forget his own accent who (for some reason) was talking in what sounded like an amalgamation of Welsh and American tones: ‘I believe whatever he felt that he did, he had the right to do,’ the pop star said. 'I had to leave my chair I’ll be honest with you, it cut me really deep.’
Like many online, 50 Cent seemed to find the humour in the scenario and shared a snap of Smith slapping the Rock with the caption: ‘B!tch don’t you ever play with me. LOL.’ Meanwhile, the Democratic Senate candidate in Philadelphia Malcolm Kenyatta added: ‘Will Smith smacking Chris Rock and QuestLove winning an Oscar are the two most back-to-back Philly things to ever happen at the Oscars.’
And what of Will himself? How did he feel after essentially assaulting Chris Rock in front of millions of viewers and his movie star peers? Initially, he cried and apologised to the Academy as he accepted his Best Actor Oscar for King Richard. But later footage showed he'd bounced back as the Fresh Prince merrily danced to Gettin’ Jiggy with his Oscar in his hand. The following day, he posted an apology to Chris Rock on Instagram.
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