will smith chris rock oscars

So, what the hell actually happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars?

Here’s why that ‘joke’ was so offensive

And the Oscar for best dramatic performance goes to… Will Smith and Chris Rock!

The 94th Academy Awards took place last night (27th March), and it’s safe to say people were expecting another uneventful affair, with the biggest tension in the room being between Kristen Stewart and that Best Actress award. Those of us who didn’t stay up all night to watch celebrities celebrity’ing, though, woke up to some surprising news.

Will Smith – the gentlest man in screen history – clocked comedian Chris Rock in the face onstage. The official Oscars coverage censored the uncomfortable moment, but full footage has since been shared online. The question is, what the hell actually happened between the Hollywood legends? Here’s everything you need to know:

The ‘joke’ that started it all

will smith chris rock oscars

Photo via ABC

Chris Rock took the stage to present Best Documentary Feature, kicking the segment off with some “funny” one-liners. After taking aim at Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz’ competing nominations, he joked: “If (Penélope) loses, (Javier) can’t win. He’s praying that Will Smith wins (Best Actor).”

Turning to the film veteran and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Chris then said: “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane Two – can’t wait to see it.”

Jada looked visibly distressed by the joke, rolling her eyes and sitting back as Will smiled. Chris laughed: “That was a nice one!”

Will Smith stormed onstage

will smith

Photo via ABC

By this point, the audience appeared unsure as to whether this was a “bit,” as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor stormed onto the stage to confront Chris. Shocked laughter could be heard as Will slapped the comedian in the face; with Chris himself playing it off for laughs.

As Will returned to his seat, Chris said: “Wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.”

The audience fell silent as the actor shouted from his seat: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Shocked, Chris seemed unsure of what to say next.

Why was the ‘joke’ so offensive?

Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith have been the butt of everyone’s jokes of late, dating all the way back to their 2021 episode of Jada’s Facebook Watch series, Red Table Talk. The couple’s polyamorous relationship and dating history – which they discussed on the show – have sparked numerous memes across the last year. BAFTAs 2022 host Rebel Wilson also made jokes about the couple, to which Will responded: “There’s never been infidelity in our marriage.”

Chris Rock’s joke took a somewhat sinister turn, however, as his “G.I. Jane” line referenced Jada’s shaved head. The actress suffers from autoimmune condition alopecia, which can cause a person to lose chunks of their hair. She’s been open about her struggle, having posted her last update in December 2021.

What happens next?

The altercation was referenced by other celebrities throughout the night. Denzel Washington allegedly gave Will a pep talk before the actor picked up an award for his lead role in King Richard. Rapper Sean Combs urged the pair to “work it out like family” at the afterparty. No public apology has been issued by either party at the time of writing this.

It was then reported that Chris Rock will not be pressing charges against the actor. The Los Angeles Police Department are “aware” of the incident, but insisted “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.”

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Featured image via ABC.