7 questions we have about the Will Smith-Chris Rock confrontation at the Oscars

(L-R) Will Smith and Chris Rock are seen onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images) (Neilson Barnard, 2022 Getty Images)

These are questions we have about the confrontation between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday night.

1. Could Smith be stripped of his Oscar?

It’s possible. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revoked nominations and wielded its power in some situations in which it deemed rules were violated. The academy has said it will launch a formal review of the incident.

In 2014, the Academy revoked an Oscar nomination after it was revealed that the nominee, Bruce Broughton (whose theme for the little-seen, faith-based movie Alone Yet Not Alone was nominated for original song) improperly campaigned for the honor, emailing members to make them aware of his submission among the nominations voting period, Vanity Fair wrote.

Harvey Weinstein famously was expelled from the Academy after allegations surfaced of years of sexual harassment and assault by Weinstein toward multiple women.

Shortly after the ceremony concluded and Smith accepted his award, the Academy released this statement via Twitter: “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.”

It’s unclear at this time what the Academy’s next steps will be -- if any, but KPRC 2 will bring you any updates to this story as more information becomes available.

2. Could Rock file a report or file suit against Smith?

He could, but he hasn’t so far.

In this report citing police, KPRC 2 learned comedian Chris Rock declined to file a report against Smith. As of this writing, that means the Los Angeles Police Department, which has basic jurisdiction where the show was produced Sunday, will not investigate or pursue possible charges against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the department said in a statement.

If he doesn’t file a report, he could pursue a lawsuit against Smith for injury to a person, which, according to California law, has a statute of limitations -- or deadline for filing a lawsuit -- of one to two years.

3. What was the motive behind the slap?

Smith slapped Rock after Rock took aim at Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. She has a shaved head. Rock said, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it, all right?” Rock’s reference was made from the 1997 film “G.I. Jane,” starring Demi Moore, who shaved her head to portray a fictional Navy Seal candidate, the AP reported. Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.

4. What is alopecia?

Alopecia is a condition that causes drastic hair loss. NBC News reported common types of alopecia in African American women include traction alopecia, which is caused by tension on the hair from tight hairstyles and extensions. Another common form of hair loss is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, or CCCA, which is a form of scarring alopecia that occurs on the scalp and causes permanent hair loss. Another type is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes unpredictable patchy baldness on different areas of the body. Read more here about treatments and Pinkett Smith’s journey.

5. How did Smith spend the rest of the evening after the slap?

Smith took his seat and then moments later tearfully accepted the Best Actor Oscar.

The AP reported Smith later gleefully danced with his wife and their family at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, waving his best actor trophy in the air like he just didn’t care as he rapped along to a mash-up of his own songs, from “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” to “Summertime.”

The only sign of the ugliness that went down four hours before, the AP reported was the outsized attention given to the actor at a party where major stars and newly minted Oscar winners were everywhere. He was mobbed by people filming the scene and squeezing next to him for selfies. Smith held his Oscar triumphantly in the air as he climbed into an SUV to leave after the brief party visit.

6. Were Smith and Rock friends?

Newsweek broke down the friendship and associations between Smith, Rock and Pinkett Smith in this article. Some highlights include Smith and Rock in a 1995 episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Airin which he played a dual cameo performance as Maurice and his sister Jasmine. Smith’s character Will had to take Jasmine out on a date in order to ensure he could keep his new job. Smith and Rock were seen in the years since that performance out socially, and then in 1999 at the MTV Movie Awards. Rock and Pinkett Smith starred in “Madagascar” movies starting in 2005. Over the years, Rock was quoted saying favorable things about the couple and their children, but in 2016, Rock’s comments in his Oscars monologue took quite a turn as he roasted the couple for their boycott of the event.

7. Had the Smiths been the target of Chris Rock’s jokes before?

Yes. Rock took on the couple in 2016, referencing Pinkett Smith’s Oscars boycott on behalf of Smith when she felt he was slighted for his 2015 performance in “Concussion.” Here’s what Pinkett Smith said at the time about mostly white nominees.

Here’s Rock’s monologue from the 2016 show.

What questions do you have about the slapping incident? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.