Will Smith had absolutely no time for Chris Rock’s objectively shitty jokes about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her hair loss.
During the 2022 Oscars broadcast on Sunday, Chris Rock acted as a presenter towards the latter half of the show. In a brief bit he did before announcing the category and its nominees, Rock made a really insensitive joke about Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia.
“Jada, I love you—G.I. Jane 2, I can’t wait to see it,” he quipped, prompting a near immediate eye-roll from the actress.
Rock continued the bit, while Will Smith made his way up to the stage from the audience. Without missing a beat, Will slapped Rock across the face, turned around, and returned to his seat. Smith then shouted back repeatedly, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”
A clearly flustered Rock responded simply that he would.
Outside of the fact that it’s absolutely batshit (yet objectively great TV) that one grown man assaulted another grown man in the middle of a Hollywood awards show (assault, it’s never okay!), it was a dumb move on Rock’s part. By doing a modicum of research before writing his half-ass jokes, Rock would’ve realized that Pinkett-Smith has dealt with alopecia, a condition that causes baldness, since 2018. She’s been very candid publicly about what she’s experienced, which has obviously included hair loss.
At the end of last year, she released a video on Instagram in which she told her followers what was going on.
“Look at this line right here,” she said, pointing at her scalp. “Now this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide, so I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions—but you know, mama’s going to put some rhinestones in there, and I’m going to make me a little crown.”
Historically, this is also not the first time Rock made a joke at Pinkett-Smith’s expense at the Oscars. In 2016, Pinkett-Smith had spoken out about boycotting the show for a lack of diversity. When Rock presented at that ceremony, he said at the time: “Jada [Pinkett-Smith] boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.” He also added: “It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West!”
Smith remained in the audience after the incident. Later in the show, he took home the Oscar for Best Actor and used his speech to offer an emotional response to the events that transpired with Rock.
“In this business, you got to be able to have people disrespect you and you got to smile and to pretend like that’s okay,” he told the audience, adding that Denzel Washington had pulled him aside moment earlier to tell him “at your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you.”
The actor offered a tearful apology to the Academy and all his fellow nominees. He did not apologize to Rock specifically, but remarked that his role in King Richard, for which he won the Oscar, is indicative that “art imitates life.”
“I look like the crazy father, just like they said,” he quipped, before ending his speech by declaring that “love will make you do crazy things” and that he hopes the Academy invites him back.
As per a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department after the Oscars broadcast, Rock has reportedly declined to file a police report: “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report.”
This story has been updated with additional context.