What you didn’t see after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars 2022
By The Big Magazine Staff
In a video shared by The Guardian, Best actor nominee Will Smith slaps presenter Chris Rock in the face with an open hand and shouted a profanities at the comedian for making a joke about his wife's bald head at the Oscars 2022 ceremony.
Though ABC chiefs cut the sound when Smith ran on stage, the audience could clearly hear Smith shouting after he returned to his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!”
For many viewers, watching live or following along on social media, the slap was initially met with genuine shock. Amplifying the shock was confusion about whether the slap had been staged. Most attendees were left stunned wondering if the spectacle was a scripted bit that fell flat.
Smith’s longtime publicist Meredith O’Sullivan Wasson, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, Oscars producer Will Packer and Academy president David Rubin then walked into a private room “very quickly … with great seriousness.”
The Academy did absolutley nothing and let Smith and his wife remain in their seats for the remainer of the Academy Awards broadcast. Less than an hour later, however, Smith addressed the incident during a 6 minute rambling, speech accepting the best-actor award for playing Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.
The speech has a very Kanye West like meltdown feel to it as he broke into tears describing himself as “a river to my people" and wanting to be a “vessel for love.” The bazaar speech also refrenced abuse and a blanket apology to the Academy and the attendees. It took a full day for Smith to put ego aside to post a very public aplogy to Chris Rock.
In a post on Instagram on Monday afternoon, Smith called his behavior "unacceptable and inexcusable."
"Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally," he wrote. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."
Smith added in his post that, "Violence in all forms is poisonous and destructive."
He also included in his note an apology to "the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world," as well as the family of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams and those involved with the film for which he won his best actor award on Sunday.
"I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us," he wrote. "I am a work in progress."
An apology statement that was most likely written by Smith's PR team who is working in overdrive to minimize the impact of his actions. Beyond fan backlash, the Academy is conducting a formal review of Smith’s conduct.
Will Smith get his award taken away? It's a question that everyone has asked including myself. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which handed out awards Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, has strict guidelines in its code of conduct. The academy called an emergency meeting on Monday morning to address the incident.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the organization said. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences enacted a code of conduct for its members in 2017 in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal. “There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” the group said at the time. “If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s bylaws, including suspension or expulsion.”
Comedian-turned-actor Jim Carrey added his commentary to the debate, condemning Smith's actions during an interview with CBS Mornings host Gayle King.
"I was sickened," the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 star remarked during the interview, which was recorded on March 28 but only recently made available online. "I was sickened by the standing ovation. I felt like Hollywood is just spineless en masse. It really felt like: 'Oh, this is really a clear indication that we're not the cool club anymore.'"
Carrey also made it clear that he felt Smith should have faced more serious repercussions for striking Rock, including possible arrest. Academy sources told People that Smith's removal from the ceremony was "definitely discussed seriously" in the immediate aftermath of their encounter, while the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that Rock declined to press charges.
"He didn't want the hassle," Carrey speculated about why the comedian didn't pursue legal action. "I would have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million because that video is going to be there forever. It's going to be ubiquitous. That insult is going to last a very long time."
Although they never shared the screen together, Carrey and Smith were two of the biggest movie stars of the 1990s, and both successfully made inroads into more dramatic territory after the peak of their comedy careers. Prior to his King Richard win, Smith received Best Actor nominations for 2001's Ali and 2007's The Pursuit of Happyness, while Carrey's seven career Golden Globe nominations include nods for 1999's The Truman Show and 2004's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
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