It’s been almost a year since the slap heard around the world, when Will Smith stormed the stage at the Oscars on March 27, 2022, to smack Chris Rock across the face on live television.
The tense moment occurred after Rock made an onstage joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, during the Academy Awards ceremony. “Jada, I love you. G.I Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” the comedian said about her shaved head — which, unbeknownst to Rock, is caused by the actress’ struggles with alopecia.
Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes in response, while Smith laughed. Shortly after, the King Richard actor ran up on stage to slap Rock, who attempted to continue his banter before Smith began shouting from his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth.”
In the year since then, Smith has issued a number of apologies, others who were present at the situation have spoken up about what went down and Chris Rock has make jokes about the incident throughout his comedy specials.
With the 2023 Oscars on the way, see below for a timeline of everything that has gone down between Smith and Rock since the slap.
March 27, 2022: Will Smith's Acceptance Speech
Shortly after the incident, Smith won the best actor award for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ dad Richard Williams in King Richard.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said during his acceptance speech, seeming to allude to the viral moment. He then mentioned some of his King Richard costars. “In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunganue Ellis, who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya [Sidney] and Demi [Singleton], the two actresses who play Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people.”
“Now I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse. You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you have to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you gotta smile and pretend that’s OK,” he continued, becoming increasingly emotional, tears welling up in his eyes. “Denzel [Washington] said to me a few minutes ago, he said, ‘At your highest moment, that’s when the devil comes for you.’”
Smith then delivered his mea culpa, though without mentioning Rock. “I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to my fellow nominees,” he said, continuing to tear up. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people … Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said … just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things.”
March 28, 2022: Chris Rock Declines to Press Charges
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the department said in a statement, NBC reported. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
NBC News reported that spokespeople for Rock did not return requests for comment, and that senior sources at the LAPD said officers typically don’t take action in this kind of suspected misdemeanor battery investigation unless the victim wants to press charges or help fill out an incident report.
March 28, 2022: The Academy Releases Statement, Opens Formal Review
“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the organization tweeted. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
Later, in a statement to Billboard, the organization shared, “The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
March 28, 2022: Will Smith Issues an Apology
Smith shared a statement via Instagram, apologizing for his actions. “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” Smith wrote in a lengthy message. “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”
He continued, “I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress.”
See his post here.
March 29, 2022: Jada Pinkett Smith Calls For ‘Season For Healing’
Jada Pinkett Smith posted her own Instagram message amid the drama, declaring that “this is a season for healing.”
“And I’m here for it,” Pinkett Smith added in the post, which made no direct reference to the incident. See her post here.
March 29, 2022: Will Smith's Mom Weighs In
Smith’s mother, Caroline Bright, shared her thoughts on the slap in an interview with Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate 6abc, calling the experience a “first” for her. “[Will] is a very even, people person. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him go off. First time in his lifetime … I’ve never seen him do that,” she said.
March 30, 2022: Chris Rock Breaks His Silence
The comedian spoke out publicly about the incident for the first time during his stand-up show in Boston. “How was your weekend?” he asked the crowd, who began laughing, as reported by Variety. “I don’t have a bunch of sh– about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend. I’m still kind of processing what happened. So at some point, I’ll talk about that sh–. And it will be serious and funny.”
The audience then broke into a chant, shouting “F— Will Smith,” which can be heard in the audio Variety posted on Instagram here.
April 1, 2022: Will Smith Resigns From The Academy
In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Smith said he was heartbroken and would accept all consequences for his conduct.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” Smith said in the statement. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film.”
Smith’s resignation means he can no longer vote for the Oscars — but he can still be nominated for future Academy Awards, attend future ceremonies and keep the statue he won.
“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” the Academy said in a statement. “We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”
April 3, 2022: 'SNL' Reenacts the Incident
In a later sketch in the episode, Jarrod Carmichael and Chris Redd poked fun at the slap. “Seat filler” Carmichael went up to Redd’s Smith, telling him he was such a fan of his and asked him for a selfie. In the background, voiceover can be heard of Rock’s G.I. Jane joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who has a shaved head and has been open about her struggle with alopecia.
“I don’t wanna sound corny, but you’re like my hero, man,” Carmichael told Redd’s Smith. “This is the coolest man in my life. I’m talking to Will Smith. Chris Rock just got up onstage.”
Redd’s Smith told Carmichael he’d be right back and went onstage to slap Rock, returning to his seat shortly after as if nothing was wrong.
“I like your tux, by the way,” Redd told Carmichael. “Look good, feel good,” he continued before turning his attention to the stage and shouting, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth,” like Smith yelled at Rock at the Oscars on Sunday.
Watch it here.
April 4, 2022: Chris Rock's Brother Kenny Weighs In
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kenny shared that he thinks Smith’s apology was nothing more than a PR move. “No, I don’t accept it because I don’t think it was genuine,” he said. “I think his publicist and the people that work under him probably advised him to do that.” (Another of Rock’s other brothers, Tony, also said he does not accept Smith’s apology and said the entire fiasco was “foul.”)
He continued, “I might have looked at it differently had he initially apologized when he got on the stage and cried and accepted the award, but he didn’t, so, right there that tells me that it is something else.”
As for Smith remaining in the ceremony after slapping Rock, and later accepting the best actor award for his role in King Richard? Kenny (as well as other celebrities in attendance) believes that was a misstep on the Academy’s part.
“He should have been escorted out of there,” he said. “I hold them accountable for that. He could have went up there and did anything you wanted to my brother. It could have been much worse than what he did.” Kenny added that Smith “belittled my brother. He had no respect for him. … In my opinion, he embarrassed himself by doing that and his legacy by doing that.”
April 8, 2022: Will Smith Banned From Attending Any Academy Events for 10 Years
Smith will not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs for the next 10 years in the wake of his conduct. That means Smith will not be allowed to present the award to 2023’s best actress winner, a time-honored tradition at the Oscars.
Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson released an “open letter to our Academy family” about their decision, which you can read in full here.
April 23, 2022: Chris Rock's Mom Speaks Out
Rose Rock, an author and motivational speaker, told WIS that the comedian is doing well but “still processing” the incident that led Smith to resign from the Academy. “I told someone, when Will slapped Chris, he slapped all of us, but he really slapped me,” she said. “When you hurt my child, you hurt me.”
When asked what she would say to Smith, Rose shared, “I have no idea what I would say other than, ‘What in the world were you thinking?’ Because you did a slap, but so many things could have happened. Chris could have stepped back and fallen. You really could have gotten taken out in handcuffs. You didn’t think. You reacted to your wife giving you the side-eye, and you went up, and you made her day because she was bowled over laughing when it happened.”
She added that she didn’t think the apology Smith posted to his Instagram account on the day after the ceremony felt genuine. “I feel really bad that he never apologized,” Rock said. “His people wrote up a piece and said, ‘I apologize to Chris Rock,’ but something like that is personal. You reach out.”
June 1, 2022: Jada Pinkett Smith Breaks Silence
On an episode of her Red Table Talk series, Pinkett Smith said, “My deepest hope is that these two intelligent, capable men have an opportunity to heal, talk this out and reconcile.”
She added, “the state of the world today, we need ’em both. And we all actually need one another more than ever. Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have done for the last 28 years, and that’s keep figuring out this thing called life together.”
Watch the full episode here.
July 28, 2022: Chris Rock Addresses Will Smith Slap During Stand-Up Show
On his Rock Hart Only Headliners Allowed tour stop with Kevin Hart at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, Rock reportedly made one of the most specific references to date addressing his feelings surrounding the slap.
“Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock, 57, said during his set, according to US Weekly, citing an unnamed eyewitness to the set. Rock also reportedly later referred to Smith — who has kept a low-to-no profile since the incident — as “Suge Smith,” seemingly a reference to the disgraced, currently imprisoned former Death Row Records CEO and strongman Marion “Suge” Knight.
“I’m not a victim, motherf–ker,” he added, saying he “shook that s–t off and returned to work.” Now, don’t get him wrong, Rock said, “yeah, that s–t hurt, motherf–ker. But I shook that s–t off and went to work the next day… I don’t go to the hospital for a papercut.”
July 29, 2022: Will Smith Issues Video Apology
Smith returned from his social media break with a video titled “it’s been a minute” to his YouTube page, answering questions regarding the Oscars incident and issue another apology to Rock, as well as Rock’s family.
While answering the question of why he did not take the opportunity to apologize for the slap during his acceptance speech after winning best actor, Smith said he was not in a clear state of mind. “I was fogged out by that point. It is all fuzzy. I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that, he’s not ready to talk. When he is, he will reach out. I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I am here whenever you are ready to talk,” he said.
Smith continued, “I want to apologize to Chris’s mother. I saw an interview [she] did, and that was one of the things I just didn’t realize. I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment. I want to apologize to Chris’ mother, I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Tony Rock. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. This is probably irreparable. I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the nuance and complexity of what happened in that moment. I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to all of you, there is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. No part of me that thinks that is the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insult.”
Watch the video here.
July 29, 2022: Will Smith Reflects on ‘Horrific Night’ of Oscars Slap
During an appearance on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah this week, Smith called the situation a “horrific night.”
While he added that there were “nuances and complexities” to the moment, he “lost it” during the ceremony. “And I guess what I would say, you just never know what somebody is going through,” he continued. “I was going through something that night. Not that that justifies my behavior at all.”
Smith noted that there “was a rage that had been bottled for a really long time,” and that the most painful part of it all was that “I took my hard and made it hard for other people. I understood the idea where they say that hurt people hurt people.” Noah then pointed out how in Smith’s memoir, the actor shared that he grew up being afraid of conflict.
“It was a lot of things,” Smith said in response. “It was the little boy that watched his father beat up his mother, you know. All of that just bubbled up in that moment. That’s not who I want to be.”
Watch the interview here.
February 14, 2023: Academy President Reflects on Response to the Slap
Academy President Janet Yang reiterated during the 2023 Oscars Nominees Luncheon that the organization’s response to the 2022 ceremony was “inadequate” and that “we must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively” on similar issues in the future.
“As I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” Yang said. “What happened on stage was wholly unacceptable and the response from the organization was inadequate. We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions and particularly in times of crisis.”
“We must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward,” she added. “We are committed to maintaining the highest of standards while creating the changes we wish to see in our industry.”
March 5, 2023: Chris Rock Slams Will Smith in Netflix Comedy Special
During Netflix’s first live special Chris Rock: Selective Outrage!, the comedian finally addressed the smackdown at length — and didn’t hold back, Smith’s marital issues (in which Pinkett Smith acknowledged a relationship with singer August Alsina).
“Will Smith practices selective outrage,” Rock told the audience. “Outrage because everybody knows what the f— happened. Everybody that really knows, knows that I have nothing to do with that s—. I didn’t have any entanglements.”
He continued, “His wife was f—ing her son’s friend. OK, now, I normally would not talk about this s—, but for some reason, these n—-s put that s— on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that lowdown. What the f—? And we’ve all been cheated on. Everybody in here has been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television.”
“She hurt him way more than he hurt me. Everybody in the world called him a b—-. I tried to call the motherf—er, I tried to call that man and give him my condolences, he didn’t pick up for me.” He continued by listing all the people who called Smith a “b—-” after that interview on Red Table Talk, including Charlamagne Tha God and The View. “Everybody called him a b—-, and who did he hit? Me — a n—a he knows he could beat. That is some b—- ass shit.”
Toward the end of the special, Rock admitted, “I loved Will Smith. My whole life, I loved Will Smith. I saw him open up for Run-D.M.C. … He makes great movies. I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life,” Rock said. “And now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whooped.”
Rock used the last minute of Selective Outrage to answer why he didn’t do anything back. “‘Cause I got parents,” Rock said. “‘Cause I was raised. And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”