Los Angeles, CA – Chaos erupted during the live 94th annual Academy Awards broadcast Sunday night after comedian Chris Rock cracked a joke about actor Will Smith’s wife while presenting an award, and Smith responded by smacking Rock’s face.
Hollywood actress Jada Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she had been struggling with alopecia – an autoimmune disorder which causes sufferers to lose large clumps of hair, WDIV reported.
The disorder is markedly prevalent for black women, and Pinkett Smith has spoken about her personal struggles with alopecia on many social media platforms over the years.
Rock was up on stage presenting an award Sunday night when he made reference to the actress’ bald head, the Associated Press reported.
“Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?” he quipped, likening the actress to Demi Moore’s bald-headed portrayal of a fictional U.S. Navy Seal candidate from the 1997 film, “G.I. Jane.”
Smith, who was sitting in the front row, initially laughed at the jab as Pinkett Smith sat beside him, rolling her eyes in apparent disgust, a clip from the broadcast showed.
But a moment later, Smith rose to his feet and stormed across the stage towards Rock, then hit him with an open-hand strike him to the side of his face, the footage showed.
“Wow!” Rock comment as Smith spun around and walked back to his seat. “Will Smith just smacked the s—t outta me.”
The crowd laughed briefly before Smith’s voice could be heard above the din.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth!” Smith yelled.
“Wow, dude!” Rock responded. “It was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke!”
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f—king mouth,” Smith reiterated.
“I’m going to, okay?” Rock nervously responded as an awkward silence filled the room. “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”
Shortly thereafter, Smith won his first-ever Academy Award for best actor for his role as Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, in the film “King Richard,” the Associated Press reported.
As he stepped to the podium to accept his award, Smith broke into tears, another clip showed.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” he began. “In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world…I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people.”
Smith said he understands that he chose a career that requires him to “be able to take abuse.”
“You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you…disrespecting you, and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s okay,” he continued. “I want to apologize to the academy, I want to all my fellow nominees…Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.”
Smith did not apologize to Rock during the acceptance speech.
Rock, who previously helped create a documentary focusing on the relationship between black women and their hair, did not choose to file charges against Smith for slapping him, WDIV reported.
“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said in a statement to WPIX on Monday.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
— Movies (@moreoffilms) March 28, 2022