Do Will Smith and Chris Rock have history? What led to that shocking Oscars moment

A formal review has been ordered into what has got to be one of the most insane moments in Academy Awards history.

Moments after Will Smith appeared to slap Chris Rock and verbally abuse him during the 94th Oscars ceremony, the King Richard star won the gong for Best Actor.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars, said it would review the shock incident which has overshadowed the awards.

It all started when comedian Chris Rock appeared on the Oscars stage to present the award for Best Documentary Feature.

Before he announced the winner (Questlove’s Summer of Soul), Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a shaved head. 

“Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock said in reference to the film’s star Demi Moore, who sported a shaved head in the movie.

Pinkett Smith revealed her alopecia diagnosis, which causes hair loss, in 2018 on her Facebook series Red Table Talk. 

In December, the actor opened up about her struggles with losing her hair on Instagram.

Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes at the joke, visibly irritated.

Her husband appeared to laugh following Rock’s comments, but that changed abruptly after Smith rushed the stage and seemingly slapped Rock.

“Wow,” Rock said afterwards. “Will Smith just smacked the s–t out of me.” 

Smith’s response was bleeped for the American audience, but in the Australian broadcast, he was heard saying: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth.” 

“Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock said. 

“Keep my wife’s name out of your f—ing mouth,” Smith repeated. 

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, who sat behind Smith, looked visibly shocked.

The crowd was silent, confused over whether the exchange was scripted or not.

Rock stumbled over his words for a moment before swiftly carrying on with the presentation.

“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” he said.

Bad blood?

This isn’t the first time Rock has made fun of the Smiths.

Back in 2016, when Rock hosted the Oscars, he joked about Pinkett Smith boycotting the Oscars because Smith was not nominated for his performance in Concussion.

“Jada says she’s not coming. Protesting. I’m like, ‘Ain’t she on a TV show?’ Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!'”

He continued: “It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated! … It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West! OK?”

Sources told Deadline that Rock approached the Smiths to apologise at the 2022 ceremony.

Several actors were filmed comforting Smith during an ad break, including Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry.

Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh also tweeted a video of Smith’s publicist speaking to him.

And then Smith won Best Actor.

‘I hope the Academy invites me back’

During his acceptance speech, a tearful Smith spoke about playing Richard Williams, whom he described as a “fierce defender of his family”.

“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’ve got to be able to take abuse … you’ve got to be able to have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and you’ve got to pretend that that’s OK,” he said.

Smith also referenced his conversation with Washington in his speech, who told him: “At your highest moment be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

He spoke about wanting to be a vessel for love and an ambassador for love, care and concern.

Through tears, Smith apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees – but not to Rock.

He said his tears weren’t for winning an award, but for shining a light on people like the Williams family.

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father now. Love will make you do crazy things …  I hope the Academy invites me back.”

Smith was later filmed enjoying himself at an Oscars after party.

According to Rolling Stone, Rock has decided not to press charges. 

An LAPD spokesperson told the publication they are aware of the incident, but no action will be taken at this time. 

“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.”


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