Art & Culture

Why did Will Smith slap Chris Rock at Oscars 2022? The answer goes back to 2016

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadMar 28, 2022 | 14:30

Why did Will Smith slap Chris Rock at Oscars 2022? The answer goes back to 2016

The Oscars ceremony was aired live on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Usually the Oscars are the talk of the world for at least a week for the fashion adopted by the stars, the movies and the celebrities that won the award, and a few guffaws here and there to fuel tabloids. But the 94th Academy Awards ceremony was hijacked by this one moment that was unscripted and left everyone... confused, for lack of a better term.

Actor Will Smith went up to the stage mid-ceremony and smacked host Chris Rock across the face.

The question on everyone’s mind at the moment and after the moment was – is this scripted, did it really just happen, what’s happening?


Yes, King Richard actor Will Smith did slap the Oscars host Chris Rock in the middle of the live ceremony. And no, it was not scripted. The slap came genuinely. It all happened in a matter of a few seconds.

Why did Will Smith slap Chris Rock? Will Smith slapped the host after Rock cracked a joke on Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Chris Rock joked during the gig, "Jada, I love ya. GI Jane 2, can't wait to see ya." His GI Jane joke was a reference to Jada’s balding head, which the actor herself has been vocal about. Jada has been suffering from alopeci, an autoimmune condition which causes rapid hair loss in the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

Jada rolled her eyes while Will Smith jumped up from the seating area, went up to the stage and slapped Rock in the face. The slap left Chris Rock stunned for a second. Rock responded at the time, “Oh Wow…Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me."

oscar-647_032822020543.jpgWill Smith (left), screenshot of the slap (center) and Jada Pinkett Smith (right). Photo: @RealWillSmithFP/Twitter and Academy Awards

To which Smith yelled as he made his way back to the seating area, “Keep my wife's name out your f****** mouth!"

Will Smith, just half an hour later, won the Best Actor Oscar for playing Richard Williams in King Richard. He apologised to the Academy Awards for his behaviour during the acceptance speech but not directly to Chris Rock.


But the slap wasn’t just out of a spur-of-the-moment rage. The slap had been in the making since 2016. Note this tweet by a user named Jason from 2016.

What happened in 2016? It was the 2016 Oscars ceremony, when Chris Rock was once again the host. He took a dig at Jada Pinkett Smith for boycotting the event over allegations that the Oscars were racist and ‘White’ (remember #OscarsSoWhite?). Chris Rock at the time had joked about Jada boycotting an event she wasn’t even invited to.

"Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited," Chris Rock had said during the opening monologue at Oscars 2016. At the time, Will Smith had reacted to the paparazzi with a victory sign and a smile.

Guess it all bundled up to the Oscars 2022 slap moment...

Last updated: March 28, 2022 | 16:07
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