Will Smith assaults Chris Rock, then wins best actor Oscar: ‘Hoping the Academy invites me back…’

Will Smith walked onto the stage from his front-row seat and took a swing at Chris Rock with an open palm, generating a loud smack, after he could not digest a joke made on his wife Jada Pinkett’s appearance.

Chris Rock made a joke. Will Smith quickly took offense. And the Oscars suddenly had a scene like none other. Smith — moments before winning best actor honors for his portrayal of tennis dad Richard Williams in King Richard — marched on stage and appeared to smack Rock during Sunday night’s Academy Awards after the comic made a joke about the appearance of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Smith shouted at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth,” and the crowd hushed as it became clear this was no act. Smith apologized afterward to many people — including tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, Richard Williams’ daughters — but did not mention Rock in his apology.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said as he began his acceptance speech.
He then paused, the meaning behind his choice of words clear, and teared up as he spoke about being a protector for those who worked with him on the film.
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” Smith said during his acceptance speech. “I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse. You’ve got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s OK.”
There were few, if any, smiles during the incident.
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The exchange began when Rock took aim at Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?”
Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.