The Oscars took a very strange and dramatic turn as Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith darted onstage, slapped him, and declared, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Moments later, Smith won Best Actor for his role in King Richard.
In his acceptance speech, Smith tried to compare his assault on the comedian to the way his character, Richard Williams, defended his daughters, Venus and Serena Williams.
“Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith being in G.I. Jane because of her bald head. She’s spoken openly about having a hair loss condition,” wrote the Los Angeles Times‘ Amy Kaufman. “Will Smith ran on stage, slapped Rock, then screamed twice at the top of his lungs “KEEP MY WIFE‘S NAME OUT OF YOUR F-NG MOUTH.”
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Rock kept his composure, ad libbing, “That was the greatest night in the history of television,” and went on to present the Oscar for Best Documentary.
Moments later, Sean “Diddy” Combs, in a presentation celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Godfather, quipped, “I did not know that this would be the most exciting Oscars ever.” He joked that Rock and Smith would “settle it like family” after the show.
The smack was one of the most shocking moments in the history of the Oscars — and certainly the most stunning since the wrong Best Picture winner was announced in 2017 — when it erroneously went to La La Land instead of Moonlight.
Also, CODA won Best Picture at Sunday’s ceremony, beating out the widely favored The Power of the Dog. Ceremony producer Will Packer tried to win back viewers after last year’s ceremony was the least-watched in Academy Awards history.
We’re confident that at least one portion of Sunday’s Oscars will be watched and rewatched by millions around the world.
Main image: Chris Rock is slapped by Will Smith after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.