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Celebrities react to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on Oscars stage

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on stage at Oscars
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on stage at Oscars 03:03

Even people who didn't watch the Oscars on Sunday night likely heard about "the slap." And many celebrities — regardless of whether they saw it in person — have shared their reactions.

Will Smith — just minutes before winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role in "King Richard" — confronted presenter Chris Rock on stage, slapping him after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about her hair loss due to the autoimmune disease alopecia.

Lupita Nyong'o, who was seated near Smith, was on camera when the actor returned to his seat and warned Rock to "keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth." Her reaction, like many people's, was a combination of shock and disbelief.

Nicole Kidman's and Serena Williams' shocked expressions were also caught on camera.

Smith won the award for his portrayal of Williams' father, Richard Williams, who coached the tennis champion and her sister, Venus. The superstar posted a video of her shocked expression on her Instagram story. In another story, she said she needed to sit and put her drink down, making a bewildered face.

Tyler Perry, Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper were all seen talking to Smith after the incident at the ceremony. One photo shows Cooper apparently comforting Smith.

94th Academy Awards - Show
Bradley Cooper comforts Will Smith during the show at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Many who watched at home took to Twitter. 

"Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?" comedian and former late-night host Conan O'Brien tweeted.

"And as far as *that incident* goes….. i am still processing. i have second hand embarrassment for all involved," tweeted actress and model Jodie Turner Smith.

The couple's son, Jaden Smith, tweeted, "And That's How We Do It," although it is unclear if the tweet is directly referring to the slap.

Tiffany Haddish said what Smith did meant "the world" to her. "When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me," Haddish told People Magazine. "As a woman, who has been unprotected, for someone to say, 'Keep my wife's name out your mouth, leave my wife alone,' that's what your husband is supposed to do, right? Protect you." 

Haddish said while the the world might not like "how it went down," it was the most beautiful thing she has ever seen "because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives," she said.

Judd Apatow wrote in a since-deleted tweet that Smith "could have killed (Rock). That's pure out of control rage and violence." Many criticized the director for weighing in on the matter. 

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during Oscars ceremony
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock onstage during the show at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Actor LaKeith Stanfield, who was at the awards show, was asked about the incident at the Vanity Fair afterparty. "I don't know, it was crazy," he told Variety. "It was surreal. It was a surreal moment."

Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary when he made the joke that prompted Smith the leave his seat and jump on stage. Questlove took the stage immediately after the slap, winning the award for his film "Summer of Soul."

When asked what the mood in the room as he was going into his acceptance speech, the musician and director said: "I'm not talking about that, this is about the Harlem Cultural Festival," he said, referring to the documentary. 

When one of the hosts of the show, Amy Schumer, returned to the stage after the incident, she made a quick joke: "I've been getting out of that Spider-Man costume. Did I miss anything? There's, like, a different vibe in here."

On Tuesday, Schumer reflected on the incident in an Instagram post, writing that she was "still triggered and traumatized." 

"I love my friend [Chris Rock] and believe he handled it like a pro," she wrote. "Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend [Questlove] and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in [Will Smith] anyway I'm still in shock and stunned and sad."

Schumer said she was proud of herself and my cohosts, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, but was "waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed."

Sykes also talked about the experience on Wednesday, telling Ellen DeGeneres she didn't see the actual slap, but saw Smith yelling at Rock from his seat. "I just was like, 'Is this really happening?'" 

"I just felt so awful for my friend Chris," Sykes said on "The Ellen Show." "It was sickening. It was absolutely sickening. I physically felt ill. I'm still a little traumatized by it." DeGeneres said she was traumatized too. 

Sykes also said she didn't think Smith would be allowed to stay and accept his Best Actor award, but he did. "You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building – and that's it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross."

When Smith went up on stage again – this time, invited, as he won an award – he apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but he did not mention Rock. He said Richard Williams was a "fierce defender of his family." 

At the Vanity Fair afterparty, he was seen holding his statue and dancing to his 1998 song "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," according to executive editor of Variety Ramin Setoodeh, who shared a video on Twitter.

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