While presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars, Sunday evening, Chris Rock was in his elements – throwing jab filled jokes to his fellow celebrities in the audience.
He made a jab at Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, who are married with a 10-year-old child, for being nominated on the same night. He also joked that Denzel Washington as Macbeth had said “King Lear ain’t got nothing on me.”
However, the comment that triggered Will Smith was when Rock looked over to Jada Pinkett-Smith and said, “Jada, I love you, G.I Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” apparently referring to the actress’s bald head.
Pinkett-Smith, who has been married to Will Smith since 1997 and has two children with him, revealed in 2018 and late last year that she is living with alopecia — an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.
Immediately after Rock’s joke, Smith walked up to the comedian on stage and seemed to punch Rock in the face. Rock screamed out while laughing at the joke and said “wow Will Smith just smacked the sh*t out of me.”
As Rock attempted to continue his speech, Smith yelled back – this time in his seat – that the comedian should “keep my wife’s name out your f*king mouth.”
When Rock tried to settle Smith’s nerves by saying “it was a G.I. Jane joke,” Smith grew angrier, and yelled the same line louder.
After the incident, while accepting the Academy’s best actor award for portraying Venus and Serena Williams’ dad, Richard Williams in King Richard, Will Smith apologized and delivered an emotion-filled acceptance speech.
Although audiences around the world are unsure whether what happened was scripted or authentic, Smith said “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family.”
He went on to say that, at “this time in my life” he is “overwhelmed by what God is calling on” him to do, which according to him, is to “love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.”