Published 9:15 PM EDT, Thu March 31, 2022
It was one of the most shocking moments in awards show history.
During the Academy Awards telecast on Sunday night, actor Will Smith walked on stage and hit presenter Chris Rock in the face after the comedian had made a joke regarding his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock had just made a joke about Pinkett Smith's shaved head, telling her: "Jada, I love you. 'G.I. Jane 2,' can't wait to see it." That led to Smith approaching Rock on stage and slapping him before going back to his seat. The verbal exchange that followed was muted by the television censors, but CNN reporter Stephanie Elam reported that Smith said twice, "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth!"
Rock went on to present the award for best documentary feature. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony, according to the Academy, but he refused. He would go on to win the Oscar for best actor, and in a tearful acceptance speech he apologized to the Academy, saying "Love will make you do crazy things." He did not apologize to Rock at the time, but he did in an Instagram message the next day.
Rock didn't press charges against Smith, and he said at a comedy show Wednesday night that he hadn't spoken with Smith since the show. In his first public remarks, Rock told his audience that he was still processing the incident and that he would comment about it more at a later time.