Will Smith faces serious backlash after Oscars assault

By Alexandra Heilbron on March 30, 2022 | 35 Comments

Will Smith in King RichardA number of celebrities have spoken up about Will Smith’s assault on presenter Chris Rock at last Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. In addition, the Academy has sent a strongly worded letter to its members saying that they will take “appropriate action.”

Some might argue it’s a little late for that. The British Academy executives offered their thoughts on what would have happened had a similar incident occured at the BAFTA awards. “They would be removed from the ceremony,” said Sara Putt, chair of BAFTA’s television committee and deputy chair of BAFTA, adding, “They would not be in the building, so they would not physically be able to collect their award.”

Update: The Academy says Will Smith was asked to leave, but refused. They stated: “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”

Judd Apatow called Smith’s actions “embarrassing” and “dangerous.” Alec Baldwin tweeted: “I am not reading much about how, or even if, the producers attended to Chris. But I love you, @ChrisRock. And I’m sorry the Oscars turned into the Jerry Springer show.”

Mark Hamill tweeted: “Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault… not so much. #UgliestOscarMoment_Ever.” Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: “So upsetting – on every level – bravo to Chris Rock – for not eviscerating will smith – which he could do any day of the week – he walked away – bravo from a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman.”

Oscar hosts Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes both said they were “traumatized” by what happened. Schumer wrote on Instagram: “Still triggered and traumatized. I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro… the whole thing was so disturbing… I’m still in shock and stunned and sad… Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed.”

Sykes told Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that will air on Thursday: “I just felt so awful for my friend Chris. And it was sickening, absolutely sickening. I physically felt ill, and I’m still a little traumatized by it. And for them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is this? This is just the wrong message.'”

She also said that after the ceremony, the first thing Chris Rock said was, “I’m so sorry.” She asked, “Why are you apologizing?” He replied, “It was supposed to be your night…You and Amy and Regina, y’all were doing such a great job. I’m so sorry this is now gonna be about this.” She added, “Because that’s who Chris is.” She said none of the hosts have received an apology from Will Smith — in fact, “No one [else] has apologized to us. We worked really hard to put that show together.”

Howard Stern said, “This is a sign of great mental illness when you can’t control your impulse. Not only that, it was hardly an insulting joke. It was not even a good joke.” Maria Shriver wrote: “We should never get to a place where we sit and watch a movie star hit someone on global television then, moments later, get a standing ovation while talking about love.”

Jim Carrey appeared on CBS Tuesday morning and said he was “sickened by the standing ovation” that Smith received after winning Best Actor, adding, “Hollywood is just spineless en masse.” He added, “He [Rock] doesn’t want the hassle [of suing]. I would have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million because that video is going to be there forever, it’s going to be ubiquitous.”

Here is the letter sent from the Academy to its members in regards to the attack:

Dear Members,

Sunday’s telecast of the 94th Oscars was meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year. We are upset and outraged that those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior on stage by a nominee.

To be clear, we condemn Mr. Smith’s actions that transpired Sunday night.

As outlined in our bylaws, the Academy’s Board of Governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith. As governed by California law regarding members of nonprofit organizations like the Academy, and set forth in our Standards of Conduct, this must follow an official process that will take a few weeks.

We will continue to update you on any developments, but we also ask that you respect your Board, Academy staff and the process as this unfolds so it can work in the considered way it was intended and mandated.

Please trust that the Board of Governors will conduct this process in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy.

Thank you,

David Rubin, President
Dawn Hudson, CEO

Tribute will continue to update readers on this developing story. ~Alexandra Heilbron

Comments & Discussion

  1. Tia • March 30, 2022 @ 3:42 PM

    I still feel sickened by it as well. It ruined the Oscars for me. I literally didn’t hear a single thing after Chris Rock left the stage. I felt so bad for him and so impressed that he went on and announced the nominees. I would have called for security and wouldn’t have continued on. I would have let someone else do it, I would have been too shaken, I was shaken just watching it. Why didn’t security haul that thug out immediately? Why didn’t medics come and check Chris Rock? He could have had a broken jaw, a concussion. I heard nobody did anything. He went backstage and left. He wasn’t there when that thug won an Oscar and stood there bawling like a baby.

  2. Bill • March 30, 2022 @ 10:07 PM

    Im curious what if a white man had did that to a black man. Instead of two black men? Will smith shouldve been ejected and lost his award. To cuss on national TV then to repeat it again. Over something so ridiculous. How sad. Bravo to Chris rock. Jada smith needs to go to shes past her prime & just weird shame on them both.

  3. Max • March 30, 2022 @ 10:49 PM

    Will Smith is total slime. I would pay good money to see him in a snuff movie.

  4. Roxanne • March 31, 2022 @ 5:51 AM

    Everyone is talking about how bad Will Smiths actions were but what about how Chris R crossed the line with remarks about Wills wife? Chris needs to offer an apology to Will and his wife for his remarks. Will was defending his wifes honor, taking up for her in public where tasteless remarks were made about her. Will shouldnt have gotten physical but Chris owes Will and his wife and apology for what he said and he needs to learn to respect people. Just because youre a public figure does NOT mean you can say hurtful things about people.

  5. RJ • March 31, 2022 @ 9:10 AM

    What was so bad about Chris Rock’s joke? It wasn’t funny, but he was referring to a character played by Demi Moore, who was still gorgeous with no hair. He has nothing to apologize for. Should Ricky Gervais pay for the jokes he said about celebs at the Golden Globes? He roasts them and maybe they don’t like it, but he’s a comedian. He entertained all the people at home,
    There’s nothing to apologize for, it wasn’t offensive. Funny? Not really. But since when do comedians apologize for not being funny. And since when do they have to ask for the medical details on everyone in the crowd? If she’s so sensitive about being bald, wear a wig, like other people with alopecia. Hell, most black women wear wigs, whether or not they have alopecia.

  6. Adele • March 31, 2022 @ 9:26 AM

    Not only that, but Will Smith used to make jokes about bald women and alopecia when he was younger. Much more offensive than what Chris Rock said. Check it out on YouTube. Just type in Will Smith Alopecia.

  7. brian • March 31, 2022 @ 9:52 AM

    Rock was wrong to single out one person based on appearance , whether or not he knew it was a medical condition. Had she been a heckler it may have been fair game.

    Smith blew it . The right approach would have been to chastise Rock in his acceptance speech. THAT would have hurt Rock much more and saved Smith from backlash.

    BUT , we all appreciate drama !

  8. J • March 31, 2022 @ 9:55 AM

    Shame on Will and Jada. I’ve actually never liked her and am beginning to dislike him, not that they care what I think….am I wrong or did the two of them laugh at first and then acted all offended when they realized the cameras were on them? Give me a break. they need to get a little perspective and be thankful they can go home to their million dollar mansion and sit on their piles of money while innocent people are being murdered in the Ukraine and other war-torn countries!! Get over yourselves, Will and Jade…

  9. Tom • March 31, 2022 @ 9:55 AM

    Will Smith could have turned that joke around to make it a beautiful thing. G.I. Jane was a movie about a strong and determined white woman. Will could easily have talked about Jada embodying that strength, determination and beauty. He could have remarked about how that role could easily be for a beautiful black woman. Instead, after listening to the joke and laughing at the joke with the rest of the audience, Will chose violence. There should be more repercussions than a standing ovation and an award especially when his wasn’t the best performance out of the other nominees.

  10. Colleen • March 31, 2022 @ 10:10 AM

    It was a little smack seriously, if Chris Rock can forgive Will Smith then we should too. Will should not lose his Oscar he earned that oscar and as for Chris Rocks jokes well maybe they weren;t that bad but seriously upset Will Smith. Maybe Will Smith was having an off day. Give the guy a break. He apoligized for his actions and cried while accepting his oscar, obvisiouly he had remorse for his actions. Thank you for apoligizing Will.

  11. ADoseofReality • March 31, 2022 @ 10:52 AM

    If an average Joe had jumped out of the audience and assaulted the presenter, they would have been grabbed by security and escorted from the building, and probably held till the police arrived to press charges. A rich person does that and there are no consequences. A role model normalizes violence in response to a joke (by a professional comedian in a professional context where such jokes are expected), and there are no consequences. Think about that. If anything these people should be held to a higher standard, yet the rules don’t seem to apply to them.

    Charges should be laid, and the Best Actor award stripped away. My guess is that awards are available to actors in good standing with the Academy, which Smith ceased to be the moment he assaulted Rock prior to receiving an award. It’s stunning that he was allowed to remain in the building, and it’s even more stunning that he was subsequently given an award and allowed to make a speech.

    The Academy Awards are a bizarre institution that underlines that we live in a plutocracy… obscenely rich people gathering for a party to flaunt their wealth and give each other awards. Quite tacky.

  12. Christine • March 31, 2022 @ 11:02 AM

    I cannot believe how sickening this is. The fact that this is dominating the world is such a reflection of how bad Society is right now. Who the heck cares about Academy Awards? They are all there, live, during a pandemic, because they all want their privileged lives to continue. They will all go home, to their warm, comfy, homes with all the bells and whistles, internet, indoor plumbing, potable water and hydro where their full fridges will be stocked with everything from everywhere.
    The fact that Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes are now traumatized shows how privileged their lives are. He got bitch slapped, not punched, not kicked in the face, not beat to death. And now all the over privileged are traumatized for life. Give me a break. Their reality is not the same as most of the world.

  13. tallredeasel • March 31, 2022 @ 11:47 AM

    The Academy can do nothing. Smith will draw the race card immediately. They didn’t take away Weinstein’s Oscar and the like were never called on their actions.

  14. Natasha • March 31, 2022 @ 11:58 AM

    Will’s behavior was absolutely deplorable. The fact that they still allowed him to receive an Oscar, and give his acceptance speech is ridiculous. Will’s acceptance speech was the definition of true acting. He cried like a baby & blathered on about love in his speech, and apologized to everybody except Chris!! The truth is, comedians roast people. Will should have been escorted out immediately and stripped of his award. I have lost all respect for Will, but kudos to Chris Rock. Also, why didn’t anybody check on Chris? Chris was the real victim in this 💩 show.

  15. Sam • March 31, 2022 @ 12:02 PM

    I’ve got a Rolex ta sell ya $50

    This was all fake,100% an act.

    Ratings plummeting, a definite lack of good movies.

    As bad an act as the raid on the Capital.

    Both could only happen in such a country.

  16. Nicole • March 31, 2022 @ 12:20 PM

    I never liked Will Smith. He’s always come across to me as being nauseatingly full of himself and he certainly proved that again at the Academy Awards both when he marched up to the stage and slapped Chris Rock in the face and walked back to his seat so smugly and then, with overly dramatic facial expressions, yelled the same line twice to Chris about his f****** mouth. Classy, very classy! And how unfortunate that he won for best actor. His acceptance speech made me sick, and the continual tears…oh please! Spare me! You switch from being an obnoxious, narcissistic bully to a humble man put on earth by God to spread love 🤢. Let’s keep God out of this! Give me a break! Your speech was incoherent and pathetic. I am also very annoyed that the audience gave Smith a standing ovation (seriously?!) and the producers of the show didn’t start the music to get him off the stage and spare us of at least some of the never-ending “look at me”, self-serving spectacle. SO pathetic! Frankly, he should have been escorted out of the building after hitting Chris! I did not watch the Academy Awards to watch an egocentric actor act like a moron and completely embarrass a presenter who was doing his job in the tradition of what comedians do. And by the way, why be insulted? Demi Moore looked fabulous as J. I. Jane and Jada looks great too. Smith’s sense of entitlement and self-aggrandizement continued in the after parties where he is seen living it up, all smiles! What a fake! I hope the Academy cancels his membership and gives his Oscar to the runner-up. He is an embarrassment to the Academy and to all respectful actors and I, for one, would be happy to never see his egomaniacal face again!

  17. TSA • March 31, 2022 @ 12:21 PM

    Well I’ll say that I think Will was wrong for putting his hands on Chris but not wrong for letting Chris know that what he said was wrong. I honestly don’t think Chris knew Jada had a condition hell I didn’t know until after all this and that info is public. Chris has been taking jabs at Will and Jada since before this incident and it boiled over. Will laughed but it was a one of those “oh this mutha****** think he funny huh” kind of laugh and Jada’s face told it all baby. It was obvious she didn’t like the joke and Will had had enough by this point. Yes he could have handled it in a better way most definitely especially seeing where they were at the time but people need to stop with all the Will-bashing. EVERYONE opening they mouth about their disgust at Will, I am quite sure has done something like that or worst to people before and if not yet then later. People aren’t perfect, we have off days and make mistakes. This is all it was don’t make the man less talented.

  18. J O'Neil • March 31, 2022 @ 12:46 PM

    Will Smith should’ve been taken out by security by force as there is zero reason to let someone assault somebody else and let them sit there I don’t care if they refused. The police also should’ve been called and then on scene almost immediately. The simple fact that afterwards the Academy says they asked them to leave was absolutely bull and completely weak as there is zero reports of that happening and now it’s almost a week later. The delayed reaction of some letter saying they will take action is also weak. The simple fact but then if it would’ve been a lower graded actor they probably would’ve been dragged out if it would’ve just been a fan they definitely would’ve been tackled by security. If there would’ve been any counter action by rock then multiple security would’ve had to tackle both of them. The whole moment was just all-around pathetic from the joke Will’s reaction of laughing to hitting, to the swearing. The network also should’ve pulled the Oscars off the air at that time and gone to the bars and so technical difficulties. The mere fact that the network and the Oscars simply continue the show meant all they wanted was more audience and that simply condones violence and takes nothing seriously.

  19. Gina • March 31, 2022 @ 1:37 PM

    This was a horrible thing to witness. I haven’t heard anything at all about how Chis Rock is. I didn’t think the joke was funny but it wasn’t that offensive. It’s not like she has cancer or some terrible disease, she’s just lost her hair. If she didn’t like it she could have gone to him after by herself and told him off. Besides she’d be lucky to get that movie because the only qualification she has for it is she’s already bald. That was plain old assault and Chris Rock should have filed a complaint with the LPD. You can heckle someone or walk out if you don’t like their comments but attacking them is just assault and he could and should sue.

    From what I saw no one did anything at all for Chris Rock. Will Smith just stayed there with everyone kissing his ass and him dancing and laughing. I am never watching one of his movies again. These awards and the academy lack of action are now soiled by this experience and I hope no one watches them next year. I know I won’t.

  20. J. R. Arranguez Jr. • March 31, 2022 @ 1:48 PM

    I never have come to like Rock’s kind of jokes, but what Will Smith did was below the belt. He has no respect towards his comraides in the business. That Rock said that night about Jada was a very ordinary joke that could be passed as a friendly one, yet Will Smith displayed his arrogance like trying to show the audience what is he in the Academy. If I were Chris Rock, I will file a suit against this maniac for humiliating him morally and physically. Will Smith tends to get abusive and the more I hate him for that. Never will I watch any of his movies and I promise myself never to watch anymore the forthcoming Oscars for the academy’s failure to get rid of Will Smith.

  21. Carrol • March 31, 2022 @ 2:06 PM

    Nicole • March 31, 2022 @ 12:20 PM —– I’m behind you all the way Nicole, every word — agreed!!
    Also — I hate this guy but his behavior is just typical low life. Dress them up but they still have no class or etiquette ability. Given the chance they prove themselves over & over every time.

  22. Bob • March 31, 2022 @ 2:39 PM

    What Will did was beyond wrong. But curious to know how this situation would have turned out if Jade Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage. We still see women slapping men across the face and no one places any attention to this violent act. Yet it still exist. Given that ‘women liberation’ is about women being treated as equals to men, shouldn’t a women slapping a man’s face (whether he deserves it or not) also unacceptable.

  23. Cc • March 31, 2022 @ 4:07 PM

    While I do not agree with Will Smith’s behaviour…definitely not the way to handle the situation. He obviously is stressed about the medical issues his wife is dealing with. I feel these comedians need to research situations before saying hurtful things. Where is his apology to Jada. Both showed some bad behaviour and Will did apologize. Chris is reaping the rewards for his nauseating comments.

  24. ALLEN McDANIEL • March 31, 2022 @ 6:34 PM

    I like Jim Carrey’s remark that ‘Hollywood is SPINELES en Masse! Perfect. Will, sorry but- that was your WORST PERFORMANCE EVER. Now you must Face the Music. Oh, glad you EVENTUALLY Apologized!!! Chris was (by FAR) the bigger man, and the Better Human…THAT night. All joking aside……

  25. eggaboo • March 31, 2022 @ 9:08 PM

    she is losing her hair she is not dying

  26. ItsaMadMadWorldPushButtonNow • March 31, 2022 @ 9:31 PM

    I stay away from the Oscars its a non event for me yet I cant get away from this story its everywhere like spam. That slap heard around the world does not interest the Ukrainians its rather trivial in comparison to what is happening there. Now Putin needs a slap and a knocking down by the world. Too many are hatefully offended over one weird looking slap and it was weird choregraphed style. I have never seen a real slap delivered that way other than the movies. Love the guy then tear him down isn’t better behavior. Be an example that is better. We all must have PTSD from everything we have been through and are on edge, its quite clear by the comments online most are under stress and something has to give. I try to Betty White my way through life with kindness but there have been times I wanted to slap a few ass hats, even ass hat is not a word I’d have used before. Betty preferred the F Bomb lol. Lets hope all can do better tomorrow. We still have another day to try.

  27. Richard • March 31, 2022 @ 10:18 PM

    Just because Chris Rocknis a comedian doesn’t mean he can make jokes about someone who is obviously struggling with something happening to them physically, as this was not the first time he has made jokes about Jada , good on you Will , wat yo stand up for your wife

  28. Douglas Mann • April 1, 2022 @ 3:11 AM

    Good for you Will Smith Comedians have gotten away with a lot of insulting people making fun of people and berating others. I believe if you look back a year or so Rock was insulting Will Smiths wife and Will & Jada let it go but this was getting to be a habit as far as Amy getting sick. “traumatized” by what happened Its normal for others to try and steal some of the spotlight on another’s dime . I have nothing against a Comedian who is funny and not harming others but Chris Rock was not funny and was Harming Jada for the second time. Maybe he should have went up to Jada & Will before hand and told them that this is what he was going to do in the form of fun would that be okay

  29. Kathy • April 1, 2022 @ 4:42 PM

    If Jada is so bothered by losing her hair, then put a wig on! Please! These Hollywood people are sickening and pathetic!

  30. Helen • April 1, 2022 @ 5:51 PM

    As human beings, we make mistakes. Mr. Smith made a dangerous mistake, the academy has made a grave mistake by not holding Mr. Smith accountable (promptly) for his boorish behavior. I was anticipating, enjoying the recent awards show, but won’t watch again. Will’s behavior, and the academy’s feeble/delayed response is off putting and tantamount to a commendation. In a very few moments, Mr. Smith has significantly lowered the standards to which all aspiring young actors and young men may chose to emulate. Mrs. Smith did not need a man to defend her “honor.” She is beautiful and honorable despite Mr. Smith’s misplaced/failed attempt at chivalry. If he could not “let the comment slid,” he should have, addressed the issue another time. Chris rock is a comedian!!! Is that not why he was asked to do the job? Mr. Smith’s lack of control, decency, maturity, and decorum should be seriously considered by any who may consider working with him. Never again will I pay to see him act!

  31. rick • April 4, 2022 @ 11:03 AM

    well chris rock the black don rickles will was up sett and the look on his wifes face nowonder he was mad he stood up to chris will wife was hurt chris is funny but that slapcould of woke the dead

  32. r ick mede • April 4, 2022 @ 11:12 AM

    my last comment was good but one more thing I think chris rock is very funny we all try to be funny that joke wow that seemed mean spirted like don rickles was speaking through chris if don rickles were a live he would of cryed hay will was that a love tap

  33. Arwen Greensley • April 7, 2022 @ 9:59 PM

    So what if Jada didn’t like the joke. It was hardly something that was insulting enough to get upset about or roll your eyes. She is very thin skinned for a “celebrity”. Chris Rock is an excellent comedian and his job is to make jokes about the Oscar night attendees PERIOD – if you can’t take the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen. Being the ‘star’ of a harmless joke (for God’s sake, it was only a G.I. Jane reference, and that was a fairly iconic movie role at the time), is very little pain for all of the fame, money and glory that comes with being a well known, successful actor.
    I used to like Will Smith, but I can guarantee you that after that slap, I will never watch anything with him (or his wife) in it again nor will I watch anything he (or his wife) produces – disappointed on so many levels by this terrible, violent behaviour and lack of restraint from Will Smith. He now seems like a man who is prone to egotistical, violent outbursts and who seems to be shackled to the moodiness of his very average looking and untalented wife Jada.

  34. Arlene Schneider • June 30, 2022 @ 10:11 AM

    This whole situation was setup to attract more viewers to the Oscars. Jada Pinket seems to.like to expose her family and other celebrities she invites on her phony show. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oscars VIP made a deal with Will Smith, his wife and Chris Rock. If you noticed they all got the recognition they crave.

  35. miguel ramo • March 19, 2023 @ 1:40 PM

    why dont we all stop talking about white and black if he would have been a white man slapping a black man or vise versa it is what it is color dont matter if he is in the wrong and you want to smack him color dont matter JUST SMACK HIM or dont your choice but stop with the color and ethnincs comparisons already all you are doing is putting more fuel to the crap that is already for no reason HEY WORLD GROW UP YOU BUNCH OF ALL DIFFERENT COLOR FREAKS

Join The Conversation:

Similar Articles

New PAW Patrol movie offers fan experience and cameo posters

August 28, 2023 | Leave a Comment

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie has released new cameo posters free to download, along with an immersive experience where fans can train alongside the pups.

Alec Baldwin may face charges again in Rust shooting

August 16, 2023 | 3 Comments

A new forensic report finds that Alec Baldwin had to pull the trigger in the death of Halyna Hutchins when a prop gun was fired at the film’s cinematographer.

Academy Awards 2023 live updates and winners list!

March 12, 2023 | 3 Comments

Everything Everywhere All at Once won seven awards out of the 11 for which it was nominated, marking it as the winner of the most Oscars of the night.

 Change Location