Before being named Best Actor at the Oscars on March 27, Will Smith stormed onstage and slapped Chris Rock live on television after objecting to a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. Jada, 50, suffers from alopecia.
On Friday, Dave Chappelle made a reference to Smith slapping Chris Rock, 57, during the Oscars in March. Chappelle reportedly called Smith’s actions a “very strange choice” at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England, on the first night of his and Rock’s joint UK tour. He commended Rock’s authenticity over the years before saying, according to Deadline, that Smith “performed an impression of a perfect man for 30 years.” According to Chappelle, Will Smith “took his mask off and showed us he was as hideous as the rest of us,” according to The Telegraph.
He added, “Whatever the consequences are, I hope he doesn’t put his mask back on again, and lets his real face breathe.”
“A lot of people forget who Will Smith is. Then, 10 minutes before he was about to get the biggest award, he acted like he was back in Philadelphia,” Chappelle said, per The Telegraph, referencing Smith’s award for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, which he accepted just moments after the slap.
Rock addressed the incident once he was on stage, asking the audience, “Did that s—- hurt?” according to Deadline. It’s “Goddam right,” The motherf—-er hit me over a bulls–t joke. The nicest joke I ever told.
He pointed out that despite being hit, he went to work the next day and insisted that he was no victim.
In a video posted on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube in July, Smith issued a public apology. Smith tells Chris, “I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.” “I’ve reached out to Chris, and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out,” Smith added. I shall therefore apologize to you, Chris. I apologize for my behavior, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.
Addressing why he didn’t apologize to Rock in his Oscars acceptance speech for Best Actor, Smith said, “I was fogged out by that point. It’s all fuzzy.” Chris went on to say that he also wants to apologize to Rock’s mom: “I saw an interview that his mother did. That’s one of the things about that moment I didn’t realize, I wasn’t thinking, but how many people got hurt in that moment.”
“So I want to apologize to Chris’s mother; I want to apologize to Chris’s family, specifically Tony Rock [Chris’s younger brother]. We had a great relationship. Tony Rock was my man. “This is probably irreparable,” Will stated.
I spent the last three months replaying and understanding the complexities and nuances of what happened,” Smith explained, adding, “I’m not going to try to unpack all of that right now, but I can say to you, there was no part of me that thought that was the right way to behave in that moment.