What We Know About Will Smith's Violent Reaction To Chris Rock's Joke About Jada

The 2022 Oscar moment that nobody saw coming had nothing to do with a best dressed list, nomination snubs, or the Academy's rushed-feeling ceremony.

Comedian Chris Rock, whose Covid-19 tweets have had fans talking, took the stage to introducing the nominees for Best Documentary Feature. He talked about spouses Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem's awkward dual nominations, saying that it would be less awkward for Bardem at home if Will Smith took home the award for his performance in "King Richard." 

However, he then turned his attention to the Smith family, which took the night to a whole new level of tension. Rock said to Will Smith's wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, "'G.I. Jane 2,' can't wait to see it," evidently referencing Demi Moore's look in the film, since Jada's head was also shaved. When the audience reaction was divided, the comedian defended his joke, saying, "That was a nice one!" However, what happened next made it clear that his joke struck an unpleasant chord with the Smiths.

Jada has been open about her hair loss condition since 2018, per NBC News, and even posted a video to Instagram in December 2021 with the caption, "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!" However, Will clearly didn't like the remark, and the night turned violent.

Will Smith delivered the slap heard around the world

After Chris Rock's joke, Will Smith got up from his seat and began walking toward the comedian. Rock then said, "Uh oh! Richard!" He continued to laugh after his joke. Then, in what audience members might've first thought was a planned moment, Smith delivered to the comedian an open-handed slap (which sounded more like a punch).

Though the next few moments were muted by the Academy's editing team, according to the Australian stream of the ceremony, shared via David Mack on Twitter, Rock told the audience, "Will Smith just smacked the s**t out me." Smith responded, "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth." 

Chris Rock said, "Wow, dude. It was a 'G.I. Jane' joke." On the prompt given to him, Rock continued, "I'm going to, okay?" He then seemed to say, "Walk it home, okay," presumably in response to a producer telling him to wrap the segment up.

Once the mute function was taken off, the audience heard Rock say, "That was ... greatest night in the history of television." Apparently, even after getting hit on live television, Chris Rock was still all about maximizing his set's entertainment value.

Will Smith apologized for his behavior during his speech

As Deadline notes, Will Smith apologized for slapping Chris Rock during his best actor acceptance speech. Smith won for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, in "King Richard." Through tears, the actor acknowledged he'd behaved quite like Williams himself, by lashing out while trying to defend his family.

"I'm not crying for winning an award, it's not about winning an award for me," Smith shared. "It's about being able to shine light on all of the people. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Mr. Williams. Love makes you do crazy things." He went on to credit co-stars Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, and Demi Singleton for their work in the film before admitting, "I know to do what we do [as actors] you gotta be able to take abuse."

Smith continued, "You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. You gotta be able to have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and pretend that's ok." He also thanked fellow Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, whom the actor revealed had a chat with him backstage about proper behavior when one has reached the pinnacle of one's career.

"I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment," the actor noted, per a video shared by the Los Angeles Times, before thanking everybody for their ongoing support.

Chris Rock won't be pressing charges over the incident

Although social media was divided over whether Will Smith should face legal ramifications for his conduct, as far as the LAPD is concerned, it's case closed. Per a statement shared with Variety, "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."

According to insiders close to the parties involved, Smith and Chris Rock are expected to work out their issues behind closed doors. In fact, Page Six confirms both were expected to attend the starry Vanity Fair Oscars after-party, where they would inevitably interact. Almost immediately after the incident occurred, security was working hard behind the scenes to make sure the situation didn't escalate further. Moreover, people assumed the moment had been scripted, because they were so shocked. 

Sean "Diddy" Combs encouraged the two long-time friends to work things out when he took the stage, tasked with combatting the frosty atmosphere in the room. "OK, Will and Chris, we're going to solve that like family at the Gold Party, OK? But right now we are moving on with love. Everybody make some noise!" Combs reportedly said, per Us Weekly. Smith himself could be seen in the crowd, smiling in response.