Despite the ‘slap heard around the world’ drama at last Sunday’s Academy Awards — in which Will Smith slapped host Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife Jada’s hair — Rock opted to keep the vibe light at his comedy show on Thursday.
Just like he did the night before, Rock began the stage by briefly addressing the slap. However, while Rock ignored the audience’s “Will Smith” chants on Wednesday, last night he responded to one audience member calling out “F— Will Smith!” with an immediate “No, no, no, no, no…”.
Per PEOPLE, when Rock first appeared onstage at the Wilbur on Wednesday, he told the audience that he was “still processing what happened” over the weekend. During his set later that night, he said, “I haven’t talked to anyone, despite what you heard,” potentially addressing claims made by Sean “Diddy” Combs that Rock and Smith had privately made amends after the incident.
As previously reported, the fiasco, which occurred on live TV Sunday night, began when Rock, 57, joked “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see ya.” His quip was in reference to Pinket Smith’s short haircut, which she recently opened up about as being a result of her struggle with hair-loss condition alopecia.
After seeing his wife’s expression of disapproval, Smith stood up from his seat next to her, walked on stage, and smacked Rock in the face before walking back to his spot in the audience.
“Oh wow,” said Rock, clearly shocked. “Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me.”
From the audience, Smith shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!”
“Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke,” replied Rock — to which Smith yelled again, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!”
“I’m going to, okay?” Rock said. After a beat, he continued, “That was the … greatest night in the history of television.” The show continued as Rock presented the next award. Later that night, Smith won Best Actor for his performance as Richard Williams, father of tennis icons Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard.
“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said through tears in his acceptance speech. “Art imitates life: I look like the crazy father. Just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
He ended the speech by saying, “Being able to love and care for my mother and my family, my wife … Thank you for this honor. Thank you for this moment. … I hope the Academy invites me back.”
Following the incident, the Academy released a statement: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form. 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.”
“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy said in a statement to PEOPLE. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
The statement continued: “The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”