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Will Smith and Chris Rock Oscars incident sparks reactions from Jaden Smith, Kathy Griffin and others

From shock to support and outrage, see how the unexpected moment during Tinseltown’s biggest night left the stars reeling — and divided.
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Will Smith took top honors at the Academy Awards, but it’s not the “King Richard” star’s best actor win that's left Hollywood buzzing about him.

Instead, both during and after Sunday night’s ceremony, the Smith's peers and others took to social media to share their reactions to the shocking moment Smith took the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock.

94th Academy Awards - Show
Chris Rock and Will Smith onstage during the show Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The incident happened after Rock joked that the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, could star in a sequel to “G.I. Jane,” as she, like Demi Moore who starred in the 1997 film, is bald. However, it proved to be a sensitive topic, given that Pinkett Smith suffered hair loss due to alopecia and chose to shave her head in response to that. 

Celebrity reactions to the incident have ranged from shock to disbelief, outrage to support — with Smith's son, Jaden Smith, firmly representing the latter. 

After the ceremony ended, the 23-year-old simply tweeted, "And That's How We Do It."

"After Yang" star Jodie Turner-Smith seemed taken aback in a tweet of her own.

"and as far as *that incident* goes..... i am still processing," she wrote, adding, "i have second hand embarrassment for all involved."

But according to veteran filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner, it appeared to be less of an embarrassing situation and more of a crime.

"Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology," he tweeted. "There is no excuse for what he did. He's lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bullsh--."

As for the excuses the 75-year-old referred to, during Smith’s Oscar acceptance speech, the actor said, “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”

Smith Family
Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Evan Agostini / AP

Journalist and author Maria Shriver took issue with another part of Smith's speech, when he expressed his desire to be "a vessel for love."

"#WillSmith says he wants to be a vessel for love," she tweeted. "Love is not violent. Love is not what was displayed on a global stage tonight."

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Several comedians, whose jobs often involve lobbing industry-related jokes and roasting fellow stars, chimed in, too, including Kathy Griffin.

"Let me tell you something, it's a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian," she warned. "Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters."

Funnyman Ross Noble echoed that sentiment with a heavy dose of sarcasm, tweeting, "Just a heads up to anyone planning on watching live comedy. You are not permitted to get up on stage and hit the comedian unless you are at least Oscar nominated. This is the worst thing Will Smith has done since his singing in Aladdin."

In the case of Conan O'Brien, who retired from late night television last year, the spectacle simply left him longing for his old gig.

"Just saw the Will Smith slap," he wrote. "Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?"

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On a more serious note, actor and director Sophia Bush had a critical but balance take on it all.

"Violence isn't ok," she explained. "Assault is never the answer. Also? This is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the #Oscars stage, & 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."

Rapper-singer Nicki Minaj penned a series of tweets of her own on the topic, writing that she didn't believe Rock would have joked about Pinkett Smith's shaved head had he known the cause of it.

But she followed that up with what seemed to be strong support for Smith.

"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," she continued. "This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y'all seeing the joke he's seeing her pain."

Hours after the Oscars ceremony ended, the official Twitter account for the Academy Awards briefly referenced what happened.

"The Academy does not condone violence of any form," the tweet read. "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."