What happened just now? The moment from Sunday’s Oscars that everyone is talking about wasn’t Will Smith winning the coveted Best Actor award — it was when he smacked Chris Rock in the face.
Later that night, during his acceptance speech, Smith confirmed the incident. He apologized to the Academy, but not to Rock, and explained how he feels compelled to “protect” people in his life. Tonight, that person was his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
It all happened when Rock appeared to present an award for Best Documentary. On stage, the comedian made a joke about Pinkett Smith, who was sitting in the audience next to Smith.
“Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2 — can’t wait to see it, all right?” laughed Rock.
Smith appeared to be laughing at first, while his wife did not appear laughing at the joke. (The Red Table Talk host has been open about her alopecia, or hair loss condition.) Smith stormed the stage, hitting Rock in the face before returning to his seat.
While most of the interaction was muted on US television, an uncensored version aired internationally, giving the confrontation the appearance of being unrehearsed.
“Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me,” said Rock after the incident, seemingly stunned.
“Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” yelled Smith from the audience.
“It was a G.I Jane joke,” said Rock.
“Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” yelled Smith, again.
“I’m going to, OK?” replied Rock.
Rock went on to present the award, but stumbled a little during the introduction and appeared legitimately shocked. Following the show, the next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, offered to mediate between the two men.
Reporters working inside the Dolby Theater confirmed the incident immediately. Smith’s famous friends reportedly had to calm him down after the incident.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith began, visibly emotional. “In this time in my life, at this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world.”
The actor continued, “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 gotta be able to take abuse, you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you, and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s OK.”
Smith then revealed what fellow Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington had told him a few minutes before: “At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.”
Smith said he wants to be “a vessel for love.”
“I want to apologize to the Academy; I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. … Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Rock isn’t pressing charges, according to Los Angeles police.
“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,” a spokesperson for the LAPD told The times.
In a statement released after the ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, issued a statement saying that it “does not condone violence of any form.”
Yahoo reached out to Rock and Smith’s representatives but did not receive immediate responses. Smith also declined to speak to the media after the show in the press room.