Steve Coogan on Will Smith’s Oscars slap: “It’s appalling arrogance”

“Hollywood showed itself at its absolute worst”

Steve Coogan has shared his thoughts on Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock at the Oscars, describing the actor’s actions as “appalling arrogance”.

At the Oscars ceremony last month (March 27), Smith struck the comedian on-stage following a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Following numerous apologies, Smith resigned from The Academy and described his actions as “shocking, painful, and inexcusable”.

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Loose Ends about the altercation, Coogan said: “First of all, I think Hollywood showed itself at its absolute worst. For all the kind of moral posturing that Hollywood has… I think all Hollywood’s moral posturing are always commercial decisions and if they’re moral, they’re dressed up as moral but they are always bottomline decisions.”

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The actor said he agreed with director Rob Reiner and Jim Carrey on the matter, adding: “I think whether Chris Rock wants to press charges should be academic.”

Will Smith Oscars
Will Smith won Best Actor at the Oscars 2022 CREDIT: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Addressing Smith’s actions, Coogan said: “I think it’s appalling arrogance. The epitome of all that’s twisted and horrible about Hollywood.

“Having said that, frankly you either believe in freedom of expression or you don’t. We do have rules. You can’t go up to someone as it were and be racist to their face. You can’t hide behind freedom of expression.

“We do have ways of trying to curtail obnoxious behaviour. But freedom of expression is to be guarded at all costs.”

After the incident, Carrey said he was “sickened by the standing ovation” Smith received after he won Best Actor for King Richard.

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“I felt like Hollywood is just spineless en masse,” Carrey said. “It really felt like this is a clear indication that we’re not the cool club anymore.”

Reiner said Smith “owes Chris Rock a huge apology”. On Twitter, he wrote: “There is no excuse for what he did. He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bullshit.”

The Academy launched a formal review “to explore further action and consequences” shortly after the ceremony. The matter is set to be a focal point at The Academy’s next board meeting, slated for April 18.

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