Chris seemed completely stunned after Will struck him, telling the audience at the time: “Oh, wow. Wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” After returning to his seat, Will shouted: “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”
Chris was visibly uncomfortable as he replied, “Wow, dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke.” But Will just repeated, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”
“I’m going to, OK?” Chris replied. He then stumbled over his words as he tried to move the show along by announcing the nominees for Best Documentary Feature.
After handing out the award and leaving the stage, Chris was not filmed again that evening. Meanwhile, Will went on to receive a standing ovation when he won his first Oscar for his role in King Richard.
Prior to that, the actor was seen being comforted by Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington, and Tyler Perry during the ceremony’s commercial break.
However, the immediate aftermath of the incident was not caught on camera, which left viewers with many questions.
Thankfully, both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and Wanda Sykes — who cohosted the show — have now offered us an insight into the behind-the-scenes fallout of Will’s behavior, and it is even messier than we imagined.
So I have taken it upon myself to piece together a timeline of the evening, and if you try hard enough, you might just be able to picture yourself there.
Obviously, the first notable thing to happen was the smack itself. However, it’s interesting that Will was seen smiling when Chris first dropped the joke. Meanwhile, Jada was visibly unimpressed as she rolled her eyes and remained poker-faced.
Will then made his way onto the stage to strike Chris before shouting profanities from the audience, and a new video showed that Jada appeared to be laughing immediately after the slap. Chris then gave the Oscar to the winner Summer of Soul and left the stage.
The academy has now claimed that it approached Will and asked him to leave the ceremony, but he refused.
While exact details remain unclear, the academy responded to the onslaught of scrutiny it has faced for allowing Will to stay and accept his award despite his act of violence.
In a statement issued by the Board of Governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science on Wednesday, the academy also admitted that it had never anticipated something like this would happen at the show, which is why it didn’t appear to have a set protocol to follow.
The academy said: “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. 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.”
It is believed to have been after this that Denzel and Tyler consoled Will, with Bradley also making his way over and hugging the actor twice before Will returned to his seat beside Jada.
As for Chris, he was seemingly more concerned about his encounter with Will detracting from the ceremony’s hosts, Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, and Regina Hall.
During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, Wanda revealed that the first thing Chris did when he saw her after the incident was apologize.
“The first thing he said to me was: ‘I am so sorry. It was supposed to be your night. You and Amy and Regina were doing such a good job. I'm so sorry this is going to be about this,’” Wanda recalled to Ellen. “That’s who Chris is.”
Less than an hour after striking Chris, Will was announced as this year’s Best Actor winner. He broke down in tears as he delivered a speech about protecting one’s family and also gave a shoutout to Denzel for giving him advice just moments before he took to the podium.
“Denzel [Washington] said to me a few minutes ago, he said, ‘At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you,’” Will said in his acceptance speech.
While Will was incredibly emotional when accepting his award, he was in much higher spirits during Vanity Fair’s afterparty.
In fact, Will appeared to be happier than ever as he proudly clutched his Oscar while dancing amid a swarm of fans and singing along to his own song “Gettin' Jiggy Wit It.”
Meanwhile, Chris attended a more private afterparty alongside Wanda, with the pair going to Gucci’s 14th annual “The Party” at Guy Oseary’s home.
On Monday, Will issued an apology on Instagram for his behavior the previous night, which he called “unacceptable and inexcusable.” He also said that “violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive” but added that he “reacted emotionally” because “a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear.”
Chris did not publicly respond to the incident until he took to the stage for his scheduled stand-up show in Boston on Wednesday night.
Here he received momentous support and a standing ovation from fans, with one audience member telling the BBC: “He couldn't get a word out for a few minutes. And we saw him wipe the tears from his eyes, which, you know, it made him feel good, obviously.”
Chris then alluded to the Oscars as he jokingly greeted the crowd by asking: “How was your weekend?”
However, he said that he will not be talking about the incident at length because he’d written the material for his stand-up show long ago, “before all this nonsense happened.”
Chris then told fans that he is “still kind of processing what happened,” adding: “At some point I'll talk about that and it'll be serious and it'll be funny, but right now I'm going to tell some jokes."
Chris also suggested that he hadn’t talked to Will since the onstage moment, refuting recent reports that suggested the two men had reconciled.
Meanwhile, Will and Jada will reportedly discuss what happened on her show Red Table Talk, as the academy investigates Will's conduct and has “initiated disciplinary proceedings" against him.
“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,” the academy's statement said.
The academy said that the disciplinary action will be voted on by the group’s board, which has 54 members including industry names such as Steven Spielberg and Laura Dern.
The final decision will be made at a meeting on April 18, and Will may face “suspension, expulsion or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”
The statement concluded with the academy calling Will’s actions “shocking” and “traumatic” as it apologized to Chris Rock for what happened.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment,” it read. “We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event."
During her Ellen appearance, Wanda also admitted that she was “traumatized” by Will’s “sickening” behavior, and lashed out at the academy for allowing Will to stay.
"I just felt so awful for my friend Chris," Wanda said. "It was sickening. I physically felt ill and I'm still a little traumatized by it. For [the academy] to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award. I was like: How gross is this? This is just the wrong message."
“You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that's it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross,” Wanda went on. “Plus, I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say: ‘Unfortunately Will couldn't be here tonight.'"
Wanda added that while Will has apologized to Chris, the academy, and his King Richard costars, she believes that he also owes her, Amy, and Regina an apology.
"I know he apologized to Chris but I believe we were the hosts," she said. "This is our house. We're inviting you in. We're going to take care of all of you tonight. Make sure you have a good time. Nobody has apologized to us. We worked really hard to put that show together. What the hell is this? It's just wrong."