A slap at the Oscars: furious after a joke about his wife, Will Smith hits Chris Rock on stage
Steph Deschamps / March 28, 2022
Chris Rock, one of the presenters of the 94th ceremony of the most prestigious Hollywood awards, had just made a joke about Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. He compared her hair, cut short, to Demi Moore's shaved head in Ridley Scott's film Equal Weapons (1997).
Jada Pinkett-Smith, who has publicly spoken in the past about her alopecia (hair loss), rolled her eyes. Hilarious at first, Will Smith then went on stage and slapped Chris Rock, the sound of the blow echoing through the microphones in front of the stunned audience, in the room where the ceremony was taking place as well as on their couch. ABC muted the sound during the ensuing scene, but the dialogue was audible on foreign television. Wow. Wow. Will Smith just took my head off, Chris Rock blurted out. It was a joke about 'Equal Weapons, he justified himself to the actor. Leave my wife's name out of your fucking mouth, yelled Will Smith, back at his wife's side.
The actor then won the Oscar for best actor for The Williams Method, where he plays the father coach of champions Serena and Venus Williams. Upon receiving the statuette, the 53-year-old actor acknowledged between the lines that he had actually hit, a few minutes earlier, the comedian Chris Rock who had just made a joke about the shaved hair of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Love makes you do crazy things, said, in tears, Will Smith. He apologized to academy that organizes the Oscars, without mentioning Chris Rock.
The actor thanked Venus and Serena, and the entire Williams family, for trusting me to tell your story. Richard Williams was a great advocate for his family, he added of the man he played on screen, a veiled reference to the gesture he had just made on stage.
Will Smith won against four other formidable competitors: Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield and Denzel Washington. The third time was the charm for this undeniable Hollywood star who had already been an unsuccessful candidate for the Oscars, first in 2002 for the biopic Ali and then five years later with The Search for Happiness, already a story centered around fatherhood and the strength to follow one's dreams.
Will Smith becomes the fifth black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, after Sidney Poitier - who died last January -, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker.