Most of the 94th Academy Awards went down without incident on March 27, 2022 — that is, until announcer Chris Rock made a joke about the wrong celebrity. Oscars guests, viewers tuning in at home, and even Chris himself didn't have much time to figure out what was going on before Will Smith was on his feet and walking quickly toward the comedian. On stage, it appeared that Will punched Chris in the face. But did he actually? Or was it all part of a staged bit?
Will Smith appeared to hit Chris Rock at the Oscars.
Chris took the stage at Dolby Theatre during the last half of the Oscars, and he began making jokes about some of the celebrities in attendance. Among the digs was a "G.I. Jane 2" joke directed at Jada Pinkett-Smith, who has a shaved head and has been open about suffering from alopecia.
Viewers at home witnessed Will approach Chris and then take a swing at him. However, audio and video soon cut out — and when it came back, Will was no longer on the stage and Chris was (impressively) composed and moving on with the program relatively unfazed.
Celebrities and regular folks alike immediately took to Twitter to try to get to the bottom of what, exactly, happened between Chris and Will.
Did Will Smith really punch Chris Rock in the face at the Oscars?
As it turns out, Will actually slapped Chris, the Associated Press reported. It was not staged.
"Wow. Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s--- out of me," a stunned Chris said after Will walked away to sit back down.
Chris then declared, “That was the greatest night in the history of television,” before awkwardly returning to presenting the award for best documentary.
Variety posted a video of the altercation, and you can see Will mouthing the words, "Leave my wife's name out of your f---ing mouth!" after he attacked Chris.
Will Smith went on to win his first Oscar for 'King Richard.'
Later on in the ceremony, Will ended up winning the Oscar for Best Actor for portraying Richard Williams — tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams's father —in King Richard. He took to the stage to accept the award, quickly becoming emotional.
"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Will began. "In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I've ever met. I got to protect Saniyya (Sidney) and Demi (Singleton), the two actresses that played Venus and Serena."
He continued: "I'm being called in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend that's OK."
Will went on to express regret for his actions at the Oscars.
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees," he said. "This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people — Tim and Trevor and Zack and Saniyya and Demi and Aunjanue and the entire cast and crew of King Richard, Venus and Serena, the entire Williams family. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams."
We'll keep you updated as more information is known about the altercation.