In the buzziest moment of the 94th Academy Awards, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the comedian has declined to pursue charges against the Oscar winner.
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” according to the LAPD’s spokesperson in a statement obtained by numerous news outlets. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will available to complete an investigative report.”
During the live broadcast, Rock joked Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was going to be in “G.I. Jane II” ahead of presenting the award for “Best Documentary Feature.”
His comments seemingly reference Pinkett Smith’s baldness, which she has previously revealed is due to her alopecia. The main character in the 1997 “G.I. Jane” famously shaves her head while training to join the U.S. Navy.
Despite the moment being bleeped in the United States, foreign broadcasts saw the moment unedited. A clip of the moment was shared on Instagram by Amanda Hirsch, the host of the “Not Skinny But Not Fat” podcast.
“Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me,” Rock stated as Smith walked away. He went on to add, “Wow dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke.”
Smith repeatedly responded, “Keep my wife’s name out your f****** mouth.”
“I’m going to, okay,” he added. “Okay, that was the greatest night in the history of television. So we are here to give a documentary out.”
Smith Apologized to ‘the Academy’ & His ‘Fellow Nominees’ During Acceptance Speech
Smith remained through the end of the ceremony, going on to win “Best Actor” for his role in “King Richard.” During his acceptance speech, Smith apologized but never named Rock.
“I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to my fellow nominees,” Billboard quoted a teary-eyed Smith “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people … Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said … just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.”
He continued, “Thank you, I’m hoping the Academy invites me back.” Acting winners are typically invited back as presenters the following year.
The Oscars Issued Statement on ‘Violence of Any Form’
The Academy of Motion Pictures issued a statement on Twitter in the early hours of March 28, 2022.
“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” their tweet read. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
Viewers did not buy the statement, with tweets admonishing both Smith and Rock.
As one person tweeted, “To offend someone by joking about their physical condition in front of millions of people is also a form of violence, you know.”
However, another tweet read, “You condoned it. You allowed Will Smith to sit there and then gave a major award which he accepted with a bizarre speech attempting to excuse his assault.”
Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter offered up what he felt was a more appropriate statement. He tweeted, “’What happened at the ceremony tonight was unacceptable. It never should have happened and, in the moment, we were unable to respond decisively and we regret the way an already unfortunate situation was handled. We apologize to tonight’s winners and the industry at large.’”