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Explained: What Happened Between Will Smith and Chris Rock At The 2022 Oscars

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Two and a half hours into what had previously seemed like a fairly quiet Oscars came an “OMG!” moment worthy of endless screenshots and Twitter debates. Presenter Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s look, which prompted Pinkett-Smith’s husband Will Smith to come onstage and possibly strike the actor. He then returned to his seat and appeared to shout: “Keep my wife’s name out of your mouth.” The incendiary moment between the two performers was bleeped for US audiences, but viewers in other countries caught the interaction between Rock and Smith live:

The interaction was so shocking that many wondered if it was staged, but Smith’s anger seemed deeply genuine, and the stars surrounding him – including actor Lupita Nyong’o – appeared extremely uncomfortable. “I did not know this was going to be the most exciting Oscars ever,” said Diddy as he came on stage to present shortly thereafter, adding, “Will and Chris, we’re gonna fix this with love.”

Rock’s joke about Pinkett-Smith appearing in G.I. Jane 2 was particularly jaw-dropping given that the star has been open about her recent struggle with alopecia, saying on Instagram that her hair loss was “terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, am I going bald?’”

Categories were yet to be announced, but all Oscars talk on Twitter immediately turned to the interaction.

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