Will Smith & Questlove Win At The Craziest Oscars Ever
UPDATE: Will Smith has issued an apology to Chris Rock and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In a letter shared on social media Monday (March 28), the actor wrote:
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.
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.
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.
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Meanwhile, as of Monday night, Chris Rock’s team did not release a statement, other than to refute any false statements circulating in the media as coming from the comedian-actor. They did so through The Hollywood Reporter editor Rebecca Keegan.
Chris Rock has not yet issued a statement. There is a statement going around purporting to be from Rock that is not from him, per his team. It’s the one that starts, “As a comedian it can be difficult to understand…”
— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) March 29, 2022
ORIGINAL MARCH 28 STORY: Last night’s (March 27) 94th Academy Awards may be one of the most memorable in years. While Coda took home the Oscar for “Best Picture,” it was other spots in the night that may have viewers talking for days to come.
Midway through Sunday night’s live show, Chris Rock stepped out to present the “Best Documentary Feature Before naming the nominated films, Rock delivered jokes to the intimately seated crowd. “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” Rock said from the mic. While Jada Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith appeared to laugh, the Set It Off actress rolled her eyes—prompting a shoulder shrug from Rock. “That was a nice one, okay,” the former Oscars host replied after his own eye-roll.
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Seconds later, Will Smith left his seat and took to the stage. “I’m out here–uh oh; ‘Richard,'” Rock responded—perhaps implying that Smith was in character for King Richard. Smith walked up to the comedian, and delivered a strike to the face. Rock did not defend himself from the single swing, which landed. Instead, he said, “Wow. Wow. Will Smith just smacked the sh*t out of me.” While Rock fumbled to proceed, Smith returned to his seat. The West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out your f*ckin’ mouth.” As Rock says, “Wow, dude; it was a G.I. Jane joke,” Smith says, “Yes,” then repeats his warning at a higher volume. Rock returns to his task after dubbing the moment “The greatest night in the history of television.”
Rock then read the nominees before presenting the “Best Documentary Feature” award to Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, David Dinerstein, and Robert Fyvolent for Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised). The 2021 film, available on Hulu, chronicles the 1969 Harlem Soul Festival with previously unreleased footage of Sly & The Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, The Staple Singers, David Ruffin, The Chambers Brothers, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and more. The film has taken home wins at the British Academy Film Awards, The Critics Choice Awards, Sundance Film Festival, and the Independent Spirit Awards, among others.
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The Roots’ bandleader adds an Oscar to a trophy case that includes multiple Grammy Awards. His partner, Joseph Patel, covered Thompson for The Roots’ first magazine cover story in Rap Pages. Patel is also an alumnus of Hip-Hop’s Solesides crew, including Blackalicious, Latyrx, DJ Shadow, and more.
Questlove and his Summer Of Soul cohorts accepted the award with a speech that supported the other nominated films. He acknowledged his mother, Jacquelin Thompson who joined him at the awards, and his late father, Lee Andrews. “This is not about me; this is about marginalized people and Harlem that needed to heal from pain. Just know, that in 2022, this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem.”
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Following the acceptance, Puff Daddy presented the next award. Notably, the band played the instrumental to 1999’s “Hate Me Now,” the Nas song which featured Diddy. Notably, that song’s music video caused controversy when Puff allegedly struck Nas’ manager Steve Stoute over the head with a champagne bottle for a disagreement surrounding a music video missed edit that portrayed Combs crucified. The execs later reached an out-of-court settlement.
Reports indicate that Chris Rock has decided against pressing charges against Will Smith. Later in the evening, Smith won “Best Actor” for King Richard. In his first Oscar win, Smith spoke about his behavior without mentioning Chris Rock by name. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. 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 Aunjanue 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 that 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. 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 gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s OK.”
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Moments later, Smith added an apology, “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. 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 the people.” He thanked members of his film crew, his family, and the Williams’ family.
In 2018, Jada Pinkett Smith confirmed an alopecia diagnosis—a disease which causes hair loss.
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“Look at this line right here,” Pinkett Smith, 50, said as she pointed to her scalp. “Now this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide, so I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions—but you know, mama’s going to put some rhinestones in there, and I’m going to make me a little crown,” Smith said a January Instagram video.
Previously, Chris Rock took Oscar jabs at Jada. Amid an Oscar boycott, then-host Rock said, “Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘Isn’t she on a TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!” In ’16, Rock also poked fun at Will Smith, pointing out that he had not been nominated for Concussion.
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Chris Rock has yet to speak publicly about the incident. The LA Times reports that he has declined to file a police complaint against Will Smith for the smack.
Both Chris Rock and Will Smith have had conversations on Questlove Supreme, Ahmir Thompson’s podcast.