Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars


(Photo By: John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com from Laurel Maryland, USA)

Anushka Kale

On March 27, 2022, at the annual Oscars ceremony, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke in reference to the condition that Smith’s wife has, alopecia. Alopecia is a condition that causes extreme hair loss, which is the reason Jada Pinkett Smith has a shaved head. In Rock’s presentation speech, he made a joke about her, saying, “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2”, which directly referenced the character from GI Jane, who had a shaved head. In response to this, Will Smith originally seemed to laugh, and Jada also did not seem to be offended. However, soon after, Smith rose from his seat and slapped Rock across the face. Rock seemed shaken for a minute, and said “That was the greatest night in the history of television.”

Later in the event, Smith won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in King Richard. During his acceptance speech, Smith acknowledged the incident and apologized to the Academy and the other nominees. Many other attendees of the event have spoken out about it, saying that Smith was in the wrong and that he acted rashly in response to the joke made by Chris Rock. In an Instagram post the next day, Smith publicly apologized to Rock saying, “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.” 

The day after the incident, Smith resigned from the Academy, meaning he will no longer be a voting member. He can still be nominated for awards and will retain his Oscar. In the days following the Oscars, the Academy committee went through several meetings and hearings to decide the consequences for Will Smith. The Board ultimately came to the conclusion that, for 10 years from April 8, 2022, Smith will not be able to attend any Academy events or functions, including the Oscars gala–in-person or virtually–as a consequence of his actions. 

As the situation was unfolding, many at-home viewers of the Oscars assumed that the incident was staged and had been planned for comedy by the Academy. However, when Smith slapped Rock, it became clear that the situation was actually happening and uncalled for. Many viewers also wondered why the police did not remove Smith from the theater, to which Rock responded that he “didn’t want to make a bad situation worse.”

Chris Rock chose not to press charges against Smith and has not formally responded to Smith after the incident. However, he addressed it briefly at a standup show in Boston, saying, “I’m still kind of processing what happened.” Since then, Will Smith continues to show remorse to Rock and all the event attendees, and the Academy will likely be taking measures to ensure this event doesn’t occur again at the Oscars.