The Academy Awards took an unexpected turn last night when Will Smith, an Oscar nominee for his performance in King Richard, took the stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock minutes before he accepted the award for best actor.
The confrontation came after Chris Rock, a presenter at the annual ceremony, joked about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. After seeing Jada's bald head, Rock made a joke about the actress appearing in a sequel to G.I. Jane. Within moments, Smith walked up onstage and slapped the comedian before returning to his seat. Although most American audiences couldn't hear the exchange that followed due to vulgarity, Smith then yelled from his seat about Rock keeping Jada's name out of his mouth.
The insult obviously unsettled Smith, who had faced some jokes earlier in the evening from the hosts of the award show. In recent years, Jada has been outspoken about her hair loss due to the medical condition alopecia.
The assault was reportedly met with shock inside and outside the room as viewers struggled to figure out if this was a planned attempt at humor.
A few minutes after the slap, Smith won the best actor Oscar and returned to the stage where he was met with applause. He tearfully accepted the award and apologized to the Academy for his behavior, noting "I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees."
The actor, however, failed to apologize to Chris Rock.
Although some people on Twitter seemed to downplay the assault, filmmaker Rob Reiner tweeted out that "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."
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