Oscars smackdown: Will Smith apologises after slapping Chris Rock over jibe about wife

28 March 2022, 06:20 | Updated: 28 March 2022, 10:55

By Sophie Barnett

Will Smith tearfully apologised after slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's appearance.

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While presenting best documentary feature at the Oscars, Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head by comparing it to the look of Demi Moore in the 1997 movie G.I. Jane.

Rock said he couldn’t wait to see Jada, who has alopecia, star in “G.I. Jane 2", which led Smith to go up on stage and slap Rock in the face in what has been called the "most insane moment” in Oscars history.

Rock said on stage: "Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me."

Smith returned to his seat and shouted: "Keep my wife’s name out of your f*****g mouth!”

"Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke," Rock replied.

Smith then went on to win Best Actor for King Richard - his first Oscar since he was first nominated 20 years ago.

The 53-year-old then issued an apology during his tearful acceptance speech.

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Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair.
Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair. Picture: Getty/Alamy

“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people," he said.

“I know, to do what we do, we’ve gotta be able to take abuse. You’ve gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve gotta be able to have people disrespecting you.

He went on to say: "I want to apologise to the Academy. I want to apologise 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 of the people."

Smith then appeared to reveal what Denzel Washington had said to him after the apparent altercation with Rock.

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith at the 94th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith at the 94th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Picture: Alamy

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams but love will make you do crazy things," he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has since confirmed it is not investigating the incident as Rock "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 statement read.

"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."

The Academy has said it "does not condone violence of any form" following the altercation during the 94th annual ceremony.

"The Academy does not condone violence of any form," the organisation tweeted.

"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."

Pinkett Smith announced last year she shaved her head after struggling with alopecia.

In December 2021, she shared a video of her hair loss to Instagram, saying: "You know Mama's going to put some rhinestones in there. I'm going to make me a little crown. That's what Mama's going to do."