Best Smacktor: Celebs React To Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock At Oscars
Judd Apatow condemned Smith’s slap as “pure narcissism,” while Tiffany Haddish praised the Best Actor winner for proving “there are still men out there that love their women.”
Hollywood celebrities are weighing in on what’s being widely referred to as “The Slap Seen Around the World.”
The video above, which was originally censored during the 94th Academy Awards broadcast, shows the moment that Will Smith smacked Chris Rock after the comedian joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald look during his Best Documentary presenting duties.
Rock quipped, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it” in reference to the 1997 movie starring a head-shaven Demi Moore. The camera cut to a shot of Smith, who initially laughed, and Pinkett Smith, who rolled her eyes and suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that leads to hair loss.
Smith then walked onto the stage, slapped Rock, sat back down, and implored Rock to “leave my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.” After an awkwardly silent moment, Rock cracked, “that was the greatest night in the history of television.”
Later in the evening, Smith won Best Actor for King Richard, in which he plays the father and coach of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.
“I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” Smith said during his acceptance speech.
“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 lot on all the people … and the entire cast and crew of King Richard and Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams! But, love will make you do crazy things.”
Serena Williams reacted incredulously in Instagram Story clips. The first featured several seconds of stunned silence with her jaw dropped. In the second, she said, “I just sat down, because I was like, I gotta put that drink down,” the New York Post notes.
The Hollywood Reporter rounded up multiple reactions to the incident from famous peers. Actress Mia Farrow reportedly deemed it “Oscar’s ugliest moment,” before tweeting “It was just a joke. Jokes are what Chris Rock does. Always has been edgy. This was a mild joke for him. And I love GI Jane.”
In a now-deleted tweet, director and comedian Judd Apatow wrote wrote, “Seems like Will Smith’s plan to get comedians and the world to not make jokes about him is not going to pan out.”
“The Williams family must be furious. Pure narcissism … He could have killed him. That’s pure out of control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.”
Director Rob Reiner was unmoved by Smith’s acceptance speech. “Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did. He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bullshit.”
Comedian Kathy Griffin also condemned Smith’s actions. “Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”
However, Pinkett Smith’s Girls Trip co-star, comedian Tiffany Haddish, praised Smith for standing up for his wife.
“When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me. As a woman, who has been unprotected, for someone to say, ‘Keep my wife’s name out your mouth, leave my wife alone,’ that’s what your husband is supposed to do, right? Protect you,” Haddish told People.
“And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women.”
“That meant the world to me. And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives,” Haddish said.
Howard Stern addressed the moment the morning after on his eponymous radio show.
“What you saw on TV was a guy with real issues,” said Stern of Smith. “That’s crazy, that’s crazy when you can’t contain yourself.”
Co-host Robin Quivers called the assault a “blind-sided attack.” Both blasted the Academy for allowing Smith to remain at the event after the attack.
“You don’t provide security?” a bewildered Stern asked. “You don’t have someone come up there? Chris Rock was just trying to make people laugh at the fucking ceremony, which was so long and boring.”
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith dropped a characteristically hot take in which he accused Smith of putting Rock in a terrible position “as a black man.” Barstool Sports points out that the sports pundit tagged the wrong “Will Smith” multiple times on Twitter.
“If @willsmith seriously did that — and he wins the OSCAR — he just stained the greatest moment of his career. You cannot do that S$&@!!Especially as a BLACK MAN, in that position, to ANOTHER BLACK MAN(@chrisrock) on THAT STAGE. If this was not a joke, Will won’t live this down!!!” Smith tweeted.
Comedians Judah Friedlander, Nikki Glaser, and Mark Normand also tweeted about the incident with varying tones.
In a statement posted to Twitter after the show, the Academy said it “does not condone violence of any form,” while the Los Angeles Police Department announced that it would not be pursuing criminal charges.
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another,” the department said, per THR.
“The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
Smith appeared unperturbed as he celebrated at the post-Oscars party, dancing to his own 90s hip-hop hits like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.”
“It’s all about love,” Smith told Variety, when asked how he was doing.
The New York Post points out that Rock previously joked about at the Smiths while hosting the the Academy Awards in 2016, first making fun of Pinkett Smith’s boycott of the show.
“Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘Isn’t she on a TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”
Rock also went in on Smith, who was coming off a starring role in 2015’s Concussion but was snubbed for an Academy Award nomination.
“Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it. You get mad. It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right,” he said. “It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.”