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What just happened? Will Smith hits Chris Rock in the face, curses him out

Will Smith hits Chris Rock on stage during the 94th Academy Awards.Myung Chun/Getty Images via Bloomberg

Was that real?

When comedian Chris Rock took the stage at the 2022 Oscars to present the award for best documentary, he made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The “King Richard” actor then confronted Rock on stage, hit him in the face, and proceeded to return to his seat and curse Rock out.

The confrontation happened after Rock joked to Jada Pinkett Smith that he was looking forward to a sequel to “G.I. Jane,” a dig at her shaved head. Pinkett-Smith has publicly talked about her struggle with alopecia, a hair-loss condition.

ABC censored the exchange, but uncensored versions of the altercation began circulating on Twitter showing a confused Rock saying “Will Smith just smacked the [expletive] out of me” and Smith screaming at Rock from the audience after he sat back down: “Keep my wife’s name out of your [expletive] mouth.”


Rock replied “wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke.”

The moment shocked and confused both attendees at the Dolby Theatre and viewers at home, many of whom struggled to comprehend whether the move was scripted or a real show of emotions on the stage.

Note: The clip below includes profanity.

Later in the show Smith won the Oscar for best actor, his first Academy Award win, and he gave an emotional speech.

“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said, adding that “at this time in my life, I am overwhelmed by what god is calling on me to do and be in this world.”

He called the win “a beautiful moment” and quipped “art imitates life, I look like the crazy father ... Love will make you do crazy things.”

At the end of his speech, Smith said he hoped the Academy would welcome him back. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.


This wasn’t the first time Rock had made jokes at the couple’s expense during the Oscars. In 2016, the comedian took aim at Pinkett Smith for skipping the awards show and Smith for a prior box office flop.

The Los Angeles Police Department said Rock had declined to file a police report, according to Variety.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.