Jada Pinkett Smith is revealing what happened off camera immediately after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards.
On March 27, 2022, millions of viewers watched Smith approach Rock and slap him after he poked fun at Pinkett Smith — who has opened up about having alopecia — and her shaved head. Some viewers then saw Smith return to his seat and yell to Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth.”
Pinkett Smith discusses the infamous moment during her upcoming NBC News prime-time special with Hoda Kotb, airing in full Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, and shares new details about what viewers didn’t see.
The 52-year-old actor tells Hoda in an exclusive clip from their interview that she had a brief conversation with Rock while snippets for the best documentary nominees were shown.
“Chris looks to me and he says, ‘Jada, I meant no harm,’” she recalls. “I'm just out of it because I'm really worried about Will. And Will's still talking. Now he’s mad because Chris is talking to me.
“And I go, ‘Chris, this is about some old s---.’ That’s all I could think of saying, right? And I couldn’t really take in his apology.”
“I think every summer, all the reports would come out that me and Will were getting a divorce. And this particular summer, Chris, he thought that we were getting a divorce,” she said.
“So he called me and basically he was like, ‘I’d love to take you out.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Well, aren’t you and Will getting a divorce?’ I was like, ‘No. Chris, those are just rumors.’ He was appalled. And he profusely apologized, and that was that.”
In her interview with Hoda, Pinkett Smith also discusses the public response to Smith’s behavior the night of the Oscars. Hoda points out how surprising it was to see Smith so riled up.
“It’s totally out of character,” the TODAY co-anchor says.
Pinkett Smith agrees, adding, “It’s not him whatsoever.”
Since Smith’s actions were so shocking, some critics suggested that Pinkett Smith was to blame for his outburst. Some headlines implied that she encouraged Smith to defend her.
“You became the bad guy,” Hoda says. “Look what Jada made him do. Jada rolled her eyes and look what he did.”
“My honest opinion about that is that narrative had more to do with the false narrative that I helped to create on the ‘Red Table,’” she replies, referring to an episode of her Facebook Live series, “Red Table Talk,” that has since been canceled.
In September 2020, Smith appeared on the talk show to discuss the public scandal involving Pinkett Smith’s “entanglement” with musician August Alsina. The couple said they were briefly separated when her friendship with Alsina turned into a romance.
“We came together young, and we were both broken in our own ways,” Smith said at the time. “To be able to make mistakes without the fear of losing your family is so critical.”
Looking back at the candid conversation, Pinkett Smith tells Hoda she became “the adulterous wife” in the eyes of the public.
She says people assumed she “forced him to go to the table and sit there.”
“And now look at what she’s done. She has the power with an eye roll to make him go up and slap somebody on stage,” she says.
Jada Pinkett Smith’s full interview with Hoda Kotb airs Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Follow along on TODAY.com for live updates.