Oscars 2022: Will Smith Slaps Comedian Chris Rock

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony.

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face on stage at the 94th Academy Awards, after the comedian made a joke about the actor's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

"Jada, can't wait for GI Jane 2," he said, clearly referring to her shaved hairstyle, which was the result of a  medical  condition called alopecia.

Smith walked onto the stage and hit Rock before returning to his seat and yelling, "Keep my wife's name out of your [expletive] mouth!"

Later, he apologised to the Academy. In a tearful acceptance speech for Best Actor, he also expressed regret to all of his fellow nominees. There was no formal apology for Rock.

The actor won his first Academy Award for his performance in King Richard, as the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. "Art imitates life," he said. "I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”

Rock's joke alluded to the 1997 film GI Jane, in which Demi Moore starred as the title character with an army buzz cut. Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes at the remark, while Smith appeared to laugh and clap his hands before walking up to Rock on stage.

The comedian looked stunned in the immediate aftermath of the incident, but told the audience: "That was the greatest night in the history of television."He is yet to comment further on what happened. Following the incident, Rock presented the Best Documentary award, which was the reason he was on stage.

According to The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg, Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry had to "pull aside and comfort" a tearful Smith.During an ad break, the trio could be seen talking just in front of the stage, with Washington and Perry putting their hands on his shoulders. Bradley Cooperwas also seen standing with Smith and appearing to reassure him.

Smith appeared on the red carpet with sons Trey and Jaden, daughter Willow, and his wife at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, smiling for photographers and posing with his award.

Other partygoers reacted to the incident, with filmmaker David Furnish saying that he tells his sons with Elton John, "don't hit anybody... under any circumstances."

Tiffany Haddish, an actress and comedian, defended Smith, saying he was standing up for his wife.

"And that's how we do it," Jaden Smith tweeted after his father hit Rock.

Other members of the film industry chastised Smith, with The Last Samurai producer Marshall Herskovitz urging the Academy to discipline him and Star Wars actor Mark Hamill calling it "the ugliest Oscar moment ever."

Journalists were taken aback at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Reporters were taking part in the traditional backstage press conference when their attention was drawn to the overhead screens and what was going on at the ceremony.

At first, it appeared to be a set-up. Smith appeared to laugh initially after Rock's joke. Jada appeared indifferent, but it was still assumed that this was all part of some kind of pre-planned routine. When Smith rose from his seat and hit Rock on the stage, doubts began to creep in. Of course, these guys are film and television veterans who would know how to pull off a stage slap.

Except, everyone was starting to notice that it didn't appear to be a hoax. By the time Smith sat back in his seat and yelled at Rock to "keep my wife's name out of your [expletive] mouth," it was clear this wasn't a prank.

Smith, as a professional, would know better than to drop the F-bomb on stage during a live TV broadcast. Similar to previous Oscars, which were defined by viral moments such as Ellen's group selfie or the best picture winner mix-up in 2017, this one will now be remembered as the Oscars where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock.

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