Will Smith walked up to Chris Rock live on-air and hit him across the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, during the 2022 Academy Awards.
Chirs Rock made the jibe while presenting the award for best documentary feature with a joke about Jada being in “G.I. Jane” because of her shaved head. Will initially appeared to take the joke well but Jada was clearly unamused. As the comedian continued with the show, Will got out of his seat and made his way to the stage.
He strode up to Chris Rock before hitting him square in the face. “Oh wow, Will Smith just smacked the s### out of me,” said Rock, leaving viewers believing it was part of the show.
However, as Will Smith returned to his seat, he yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f###### mouth!” A stunned Chris Rock responded, “Wow dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” but Will repeated his previous instruction, even more forcefully.
“I’m going to, okay,” came the response. Chris recovered quickly and was straight back to presenting duties. “That was the greatest night in the history of television,” he quipped.
Soon after Will Smith was back on stage, although this time to collect the Oscar for best actor in a leading role for his performance in King Richard as Richard Williams, the father of Serena and Venus Williams. He referenced the earlier incident during his acceptance speech before apologizing for his actions.
“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, you’ve got to be able to take abuse, you’ve got to be able to take people talk crazy about you, in this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend that’s OK.”
“Denzel said to me in your highest moment be careful, that’s when the devil comes from you,” he said referring to something the actor told him during a break.
“I want to apologize to the Academy; I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment. I’m not crying for winning an award … it’s about being able to shine a light on all the people… the entire cast and crew of King Richard and the entire Williams family.
I look like the crazy father … but love will make you do crazy things,” Will Smith concluded.
Last year, Jada Pinkett Smith revealed she shaved her head after struggling with alopecia. “Now at this point, I can only laugh,” she said in a video shared on Instagram. “Y’all know I’ve been struggling with alopecia. Just all of a sudden, one day…it just showed up like that. Now, this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So, I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions.” She added, “Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something. Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”