The 94th Oscars held in Los Angeles on Sunday pulled out all the stops to put on a good show. But the thunder was stolen by what appears to have been an unscripted moment: Will Smith charging to the stage and slapping presenter Chris Rock.
Rock had made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, the actor Jada Pinkett-Smith, being apt for the next G.I. Jane movie because of her tonsured head. Pinkett-Smith shaved her head in 2021 because of alopecia. She didn’t find the joke funny. Will Smith went one further, hitting Rock on the face and then continuing to abuse Rock after returning to his seat.
Smith, who won the Best Actor award for King Richard minutes later, apologised for his behaviour to the crowd, but not to Chris Rock.
Uncalled-for violence or a justified reaction by a protective husband? Here are some instant editorials from Twitter.
The incident certainly enlivened the nearly three-and-a-half hour-long ceremony. The evening was filled with montages of classic films, seemingly never-ending musical performances and occasionally awkward banter by hosts Wanda Skyes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer. The decision to pre-record the presentation of eight awards and splice them into the live telecast didn’t go down well either.
The acceptance speeches of some of the winners came in for praise, especially the ones by Ariana DeBose (Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story) and Troy Kotsur (CODA).
Lady Gaga, shut out of the nominations for her performance in House of Gucci, won hearts with her handling of the wheelchair-bound Liza Minnelli. The actors presented The Best Picture Oscar to CODA.