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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 29, 2022

No evidence to support claim that Will Smith, Chris Rock conflict was staged to detract from Ukraine

If Your Time is short

  • There’s no evidence to support the unfounded claim that Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Academy Awards was staged to take attention away from Ukraine. 

On March 27, during a live broadcast of the Academy Awards, actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock.

While some people have claimed that the moment was staged, others have gone a step further and connected it to global affairs. 

"will smith slapping chris rock was planned as a distraction to take the attention away from ukraine WAKE UP!!!!," one tweet said. 

But there’s no evidence to support this claim. 

Here’s what happened. 

Rock said that actors Javier Bardem and his wife Penelope Cruz were both nominated for Oscars, and joked that if she lost, Bardem couldn’t win. 

"He is praying that Will Smith wins, like ‘Please, lord!’" Rock said. Smith, who was nominated for Best Actor for his role in the movie "King Richard" laughed along. 

Then Rock turned his attention to Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, which causes hair loss. 

"Jada, I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it," he said, apparently referring to Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. (Starring in the 1997 production of "G.I. Jane," actress Demi Moore sported a shaved head.) Smith continued to laugh while Pinkett Smith’s smile faded and she rolled her eyes.

Smith then strode on stage and slapped Rock in the face. 

"Wow, wow," Rock said, as Smith returned to his seat. "Will Smith just smacked the s--- out of me."

Smith then shouted angrily at Rock, "Keep my wife’s name out your f------ mouth!"

"Wow, dude," Rock said. "It was a G.I. Jane joke." 

"Keep my wife’s name out your f------ mouth!" Smith shouted again, louder this time. 

Rock appeared uncharacteristically rattled and then proceeded to present the award for Best Documentary. 

When Smith later accepted the Oscar for Best Actor, he apologized to the Academy and to his fellow nominees, and through tears, said, "I am being called on in my life to love people, and to protect people, and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you got to be able to take abuse, you got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to have people disrespecting you, and you got to smile and you got to pretend like that’s okay."

He compared himself to Richard Williams, who he portrayed in "King Richard," and said, "Love’ll make you do crazy things." 

He ended his acceptance speech laughing, and said, "I hope the Academy invites me back." 

The Los Angeles Police Department told reporters in a statement that it was aware "of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards" but that "the individual involved has declined to file a police report." 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences initially tweeted that it "does not condone violence of any form" and later said it was conducting a formal review of Smith’s conduct. 


"The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show," the Academy said. "We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law." 

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Academy also called an emergency meeting Monday morning to address the incident. 

While what happened between Rock and Smith at the Oscars drew widespread media attention, tweets, hot takes and texts between family and friends at a moment when Ukraine is fighting against a Russian invasion, claims that the incident was staged to detract from an overseas war are unfounded. 

We rate this claim False. 


Our Sources

Tweet, March 28, 2022

Facebook post, March 28, 2022

The Guardian, Watch the uncensored moment Will Smith smacks Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, drops F-bomb, March 27, 2022

ABC, Will Smith Accepts the Oscar for Lead Actor, March 27, 2022

Jada Pinkett Smith Instagram post, Dec. 28, 2021

CNN, Oscars controversy shines a light on Jada Pinkett Smith's 'struggle' with alopecia, March 28, 2022

Lois Beckett tweet, March 27, 2022

The Academy tweet, March 28, 2022

Vulture, What Just Happened With Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars?, updated March 28, 2022

Los Angeles Times, Will Smith’s Oscars slap condemned by the film academy, investigation launched, March 28, 2022


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No evidence to support claim that Will Smith, Chris Rock conflict was staged to detract from Ukraine

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