Will Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actor on Sunday, for ‘King Richard,’ but his career-defining win was overshadowed by an incident that occurred just minutes earlier.
After presenter Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, Smith unexpectedly walked onto the stage and smacked Rock on live TV. In his acceptance speech, Smith made several oblique references to the incident, including an apology ‘to the Academy.’
Earlier, during the ceremony, Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, while he was presenting an award.
“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” Rock said, in seeming reference to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Last year, Pinkett Smith announced she had shaved her head after being diagnosed with alopecia.
Smith walked onto the stage and hit Rock, before returning to his seat and shouting: “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,”
After the award, Chris said “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” Smith said. “I know, to do what we do, we’ve gotta be able to take abuse. You’ve gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve gotta be able to have people disrespecting you. You’ve gotta smile and pretend that that’s okay.
He then revealed what “Denzel said to me a few minutes ago”, adding Washington said: “‘In your highest moments, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you’.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Regina Hall – who is hosting the ceremony alongside Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes – poked fun at Smith and Pinkett Smith’s marriage. The couple could be seen laughing in response.
Following the incident, a joke Rock made about Pinkett Smith at the 2016 Oscars resurfaced online.