The 2022 Academy Awards had a very unscripted moment when one of the presenters, comedian Chris Rock, made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
"Jada, I love you," Rock said. "G.I. Jane 2, I can't wait to see it."
It was a reference to her bald head, which is a result of an autoimmune disorder called alopecia.
Her husband, Will Smith, reacted by walking up to the stage and slapping Rock in the face.
Then after Smith returned to his seat, he shouted at Rock to "keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth". This was inaudible to the international TV audience because the sound was turned off.
When the sound returned, Rock quipped: "That was, uh, greatest night in the history of television."
Later, when Smith won the best Oscar for his role in King Richard, he apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a teary speech. But Smith did not apologize for the assault on Rock, preferring instead to praise his character in the film for the way he protected his family.
"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said. "In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world. Making this film, I got to protect Aunjanue Ellis, who is one of the most strongest, most delicate people I’ve ever met. I got to protect Saniyya and Demi, the two actresses who play Venus and Serena. I’m being called on in my life to love people. And to protect people and to be a river to my people."
Then Smith said that he knew that in his line of work, "we got to be able to take abuse."
"You gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you," Smith continued. "In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and pretend like that’s okay."
Then he revealed that fellow nominee Denzel Washington had told him a few minutes earlier that "at your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”
"I want to be a vessel for love," Smith declared. "I want to say thank you to Venus and Serena and the entire Williams family for trusting me with your story. I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care."
Under the law, assault is both a crime and a civil wrong, which means Smith left himself open to the possibility of being prosecuted by the state or sued by Rock.
But the Los Angeles police said in a statement that the "individual involved [presumably Rock] has declined to file a police report".
“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” the spokesperson said.