At the 2022 Academy Awards, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, shocking attendees and audiences. Though Smith apologized in his speech upon winning Best Actor, there’s likely a deeper reason behind his actions.
Clearly, Will Smith was defending his wife, Jada, telling Chris Rock, “Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth” post-slap. Rock’s joke about Jada starring in “GI Jane 2” — “GI Jane” being a film starring Demi Moore with a shaved head — may have angered Will, as Jada’s baldness is the result of a disease.
Jada Pinkett Smith struggles with alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss, and has opened up about her discovery: “I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands… I was literally shaking in fear.” Knowing this, it’s more understandable that Will and Jada didn’t take well to Rock’s joke.
However, this isn’t the first time Chris Rock mocked Jada at the Oscars. When the Smiths boycotted the event in 2016 in solidarity with the #OscarsSoWhite movement — which protested the all-white set of acting nominees — Rock joked, “Jada said she's not coming. I was like, 'Isn't she on a TV show?’” implying she wasn’t invited in the first place.
Will Smith seemed to apologize for his actions in his Best Actor speech and gave some vague reasons as to why he slapped Rock, but the show never really recovered from the incident. Regardless of the reason for the attack, there’s no question that Will is very defensive of his wife — perhaps to a fault.