The biggest moment of the night had some history behind it.
After Will Smith shocked the world by appearing to hit Chris Rock live on television at last night’s Oscars, a joke by the comedian from back in 2016 has resurfaced and looks to add even further context to the very public falling out.
2016 was the last time Rock hosted and on that night, he made this joke in reference to the Oscars boycott and Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith:
Ahhhh I get it now.
2016 Oscars Chris had a lot of jokes for Jada because she was boycotting the Oscar’s on behalf of Will.
Will probably came in tonight waiting for Chris to say something slick… & he did. ?
Hence the “Keep my wife’s name out your f ***** mouth.”
I dig it. pic.twitter.com/JsM6OCYq2P
— Andrew Hawkins (@Hawk) March 28, 2022
Having had a number of stories about their personal lives made public in recent years – often by their own doing – it’s possible this joke hit too close to home and Smith’s attack was a response to more than just the joke made on the night.
Here you can see the moment the 53-year-old slowly walked up to the stage and hit 57-year-old Rock after he made a “G. I. Jane” quip about Smith’s wife, Jada’s appearance.
The entire Will Smith moment went to air uncensored in Australia: pic.twitter.com/qG8WL7DEub
— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) March 28, 2022
Jada suffers from alopecia which causes her hair to fall out – a condition she has spoken openly spoken about over the years – while the two seem initially amused by what Rock calls “a nice one”, Smith then proceeds to get up from his seat and approach the host.
On the night, the audio cut out following the altercation itself – but as you can hear in this uncensored clip – Smith repeatedly shouts “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!”.
While many online are debating whether this was a staged stunt, the Academy itself seemed to suggest otherwise, posting this tweeting condemning “violence of any form”.
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.
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.
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
Moreover, on Monday’s episode of Good Morning Britain from the red carpet, reporter Noel Phillips confirmed that “it is not a prank”, adding that Rock is not pressing charges following the apparently genuine slap.
'We're still trying to figure out if it was a smack, a punch or even a slap.'
Will Smith stormed the stage of the Oscars & hit Chris Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
The police 'will not be proceeding with any charges'. pic.twitter.com/q0yLhFTDtg
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 28, 2022
Smith actually went on to win Best Actor shortly after the incident and, during his acceptance speech, gave multiple nods to being a “fierce defender of his family” and “protecting them”, as well as how “love makes you do crazy things”.
He also went some way as to give an apology during a tearful five-minute speech, adding, “I hope the Academy invites me back”.
— Variety (@Variety) March 28, 2022