Celebrities react to Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock: “Oscars’ ugliest moment”

Judd Apatow, Keir Starmer, Nicki Minaj and more have all weighed in on the incident

Celebrities and politicians have reacted to Will Smith‘s altercation with Chris Rock during last night’s (March 27) Oscars.

Following a “joke” by Rock about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith which alluded to her baldness – the actress has spoken about suffering from alopecia – the King Richard actor went on stage and slapped the comedian. Once he returned to his seat, Smith twice shouted: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

Smith subsequently apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees after being named Best Actor shortly after the incident, saying: “Art imitates life – I look like the crazy father, just like they said. But love will make you do crazy things.”

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The star’s actions have since been strongly condemned by many celebrities, with director Judd Apatow tweeting in a since-deleted post: “Seems like Will Smith’s plan to get comedians and the world to not make jokes about him is not going to pan out. The Williams family must be furious.

Chris Rock Will Smith
Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars 2022 CREDIT: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

“Pure narcissism … He could have killed him. That’s pure out of control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin added in her own post: “Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theatres”. Mia Farrow labelled it “Oscars’ ugliest moment” in a since-deleted post.

Richard Williams, who Smith played in his Oscar-winning performance, said in a statement via NBC: “We don’t know all the details of what happened. But we don’t condone anyone hitting anyone else unless it’s in self-defense.”

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Many more famous names have also had their say – you can see a selection of reactions below:

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer also weighed in on Smith’s actions, admitting in an interview with LBC that he was “pretty shocked at it”.

“Of course there are circumstances, and anybody who insults family members excites something quite emotional in all of us. But on the other hand, to go up and hit someone in that way is wrong, I’m afraid. It was the wrong thing to do,” he said.

“It was at the Oscars, you’ve got all the cameras there, millions of people watching – it was wrong. It was the wrong response in the circumstances.

“He’s apologised, obviously. I get that. But I was struck by the fact that it didn’t appear to me to be completely spontaneous – if something happens, somebody reacts. But he sort of walked on quite calmly and hit someone. I’m sorry, for me that’s the wrong side of the line.”

One Tree Hill actress Sophia Bush also condemned Smith’s actions while criticising Rock’s joke, tweeting: “Violence isn’t ok. Assault is never the answer. Also? This is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the #Oscarsstage, & tonight he went after her alopecia. Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather.”

She added: “Hitting him was not okay. AND his ‘joke’ was cruel & personal. All of it, awful.”

In a since-deleted tweet, US representative Ayanna Pressley appeared to defend Smith, saying: “Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you [Will Smith]. Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults. #Oscars Women with baldies are for real men only only. Boys need not apply.”

Tiffany Haddish shared her thoughts with People, calling the incident “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen”.

“When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me,” said Haddish, who starred in Girls Trip opposite Pinkett Smith.

“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.”

She continued: “That meant the world to me. And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.”

Tiffany Haddish
Tiffany Haddish CREDIT: Prince Williams/Wireimage

Whoopi Goldberg said she believes Smith “overreacted” and “snapped” at Rock’s joke.

“I think it was a lot of stuff probably built up,” Goldberg, who is a serving Governor for the Academy’s Actors branch, said.

“I think he overreacted… I think he had one of those moments where it was like [God damn] it, just stop. I get it, not everybody acts the way we would like them to act under pressure. And he snapped.

“Sometimes you get to a point when you behave badly,” she continued. “I myself have behaved badly on occasion.”

Nicki Minaj criticised Rock’s joke, saying: “I love Chris Rock. I don’t think he would’ve made that joke had he known what Jada recently shared- but between him & the whole team @ the #Oscarsyou mean to tell me not ONE of y’all heard this woman just share this heartbreaking story? #ComeOnSon …”

She continued: “The husband gets a front row seat to his wife’s pain… he’s the 1 consoling her… drying her tears behind closed doors when those cameras go off. Social media has made ppl feel that these ‘husbands’ won’t ever run into them in real life.

“You just got to witness in real time what happens in a man’s soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a ‘little joke’ at her expense. This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y’all seeing the joke he’s seeing her pain”.

She added: “Imagine what it must feel like to be losing your hair to the point where you have to shave it bald. You think that’s easy to deal with for anyone? You don’t think she’s cried about that many times? 2022 y’all gon have to see these men about those jokes you made about their wives.”

Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding went on to suggest to Sky News: “I think there’s something deeper to be discussed, and I hope they both step up man to man and kind of figure it all out, which I’m sure they will.”

Following the incident, the LAPD confirmed that Rock is not pressing charges against Smith at present, saying in a statement: “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.”

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