Earlier this year at the 94th Academy Awards, Chris Rock walked onto the stage to present the award for Best Documentary Feature, but before he could even get to the list of nominees, he was slapped across the face by a fellow actor, and the whole ordeal has made him decide not to host next year’s Oscars, though he was invited by the Academy to do so.
On March 27 of this year, comedian Chris Rock took the stage at the televised Oscars ceremony to announce the nominees for, and winner of, the award for Best Documentary Feature. It wasn’t his first time to host, in spite of the fact that back in 2016, Bustle.com pointed out the fact that “some might be skeptical [about] how a comedian known for his incisive and expletive-filled standup could successfully adapt his sense of humor for a decidedly PG event.”
But it wasn’t Chris Rock’s expletives that led to the silent chaos that ensued shortly after he appeared on stage. But for actor Will Smith, it was definitely something Chris Rock said, as Smith became angry when Rock referenced the film, G. I. Jane and made remarks about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair that evening. Smith approached Rock on stage and open-slapped him across the face.
The entire altercation took place on live television, and because Rock is a comedian and Smith has played some comedic roles, many audience members could have easily wondered if the display was part of a gag, but moments later, it became very clear that this was no gag. It was real.
Rock and Smith exchanged words after Smith returned to his seat alongside his wife in the front row, and Will Smith, who played Genie in Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, was visibly angry and used expletives during the exchange.
The casualties of the evening included Rock’s pride and Smith’s reputation, and the fallout included Will Smith being banned from the Academy Awards for 10 years.
Only weeks ago, Will Smith recorded a video of himself answering questions about the infamous “Oscars slap.” While Smith addressed his fans in the video rather than Chris Rock, he did state in the video that he had reached out to the comedian, but that Rock was not quite ready for a conversation yet.
But earlier this week, as Chris Rock performed in Phoenix, Arizona, he opened up a little about the infamous altercation about which he has been mostly mum to this point.
According to the Arizona Republic, Rock told the audience that he had been invited to host the 95th Academy Awards in 2023, but he declined the offer. Rock said that returning to the Oscars would be akin to returning to a crime scene. Rock also received an offer to star in a Super Bowl commercial, but he declined that offer as well.
Rock did make one joke about the slap to the Phoenix audience. He’s been asked whether it hurt, and he said that it definitely did hurt, adding, “[Smith] is bigger than me; the state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith.”