Last year’s Oscars will be remembered as perhaps the most dramatic in history, thanks, of course, to “The Slap Heard Around the World.”
At the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, Will Smith stepped onstage and punched host Chris Rock in the face.
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Minutes later, Smith won the Best Actor award for his role in the sports drama, King Richard.
The controversial moment led to Smith being banned from Academy events for 10 years and the Oscars introducing new crisis measures for this year’s ceremony.
While no one could possibly forget what happened that night, you may have forgotten the circumstances leading up to the blow and subsequent aftermath.
Here’s how it played out.
Why did Will Smith hit Chris Rock?
Rock announced the Best Documentary nominees when he began a short monologue. At the time, the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, comparing her to Demi Moore in the 1997 film, GI Jane.
‘Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, okay?” said Rock. While many onlookers laughed, Pinkett Smith seemed unamused.
The Matrix star has talked about living with alopecia in the past, which resulted in her decision to shave her head.
Despite appearing to laugh at first, Smith then walked onstage and punched Rock hard in the face before turning and returning to his seat.
The crowd was initially stunned as it was unclear whether the moment had been pre-arranged.
“Wow… Will Smith just totally blew my mind,” Rock finally exclaimed.
However, it was soon clear that the incident was no big deal, as Smith shouted the infamous words, “Keep my wife’s name out of your goddamn mouth.”
What happened after the blow?
Less than 40 minutes after the blow, Will Smith took the stage again, this time to collect one of the best awards of the night. Smith won Best Actor for his role as Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena, in Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard.
In his deeply emotional acceptance speech, Smith focused on the similarities between himself and his character.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. At this time of my life, right now, I am overwhelmed with what God is asking me to do and be in this world,” he said.
Later that night, Smith was filmed dancing to his own music Vanity purse Oscar party.
It later emerged that Rock had refused to file battery charges against the actor.
Five days after the blow, Smith sent an official resignation to the Academy, stripping him of his membership in the Oscars awarding organization.
The Academy then fast-tracked a meeting with the board of directors to decide Smith’s fate and decided to ban the actor from the Oscars and all related Academy events for the next 10 years.
Last July, Smith released an apology video to Rock, to which the comedian did not respond.
Rock first tackled the incident head-on this week in his live comedy special for Netflix, Chris Rock: Selective outrage.
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