“There’s that sense of disbelief and then trying to figure out what just happened and going from there,” a source tells EW of the moments following Will Smith’s Oscars smack on Rock.
According to a source close to the situation, Chris Rock’s remark about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, which provoked Will Smith to approach the comedian and hit him in the face during Sunday night’s Academy Awards, wasn’t included in the original screenplay for the ABC show.
While reps “seriously considered” pulling Smith from the event right before he won Best Actor for his portrayal in King Richard, the nature of the fast-paced broadcast got in the way of speedy decision-making, according to the industry source. “There are always jokes that are not in the script when it comes to a live show with comedians. There’s the shock factor, followed by the need to figure out what just happened and proceed from there.”
Rock’s reps did not answer to EW’s request for confirmation that the joke was not in the script, and Smith’s reps did not respond to our emails for comment on the issue. Smith issued an Instagram message on Monday afternoon, apologizing for his actions and writing, in part, “My behavior at the Academy Awards last night was both wrong and inexcusable. Jokes about my medical condition are part of the work, but one about Jada’s illness was too much for me to handle, and I reacted emotionally.”
Representatives from the Academy, ABC, and representatives for Rock and Smith were all involved in in-the-moment deliberations on how to continue on Sunday night, according to our source.
They explain, “You’re also trying to make sure Chris Rock is okay.” “So basically, making a significant decision like that in a 10-minute timeframe and getting everyone together and having that debate logistically was a headache and practically impossible.”
The Academy acknowledged it initiated an investigation into Smith’s actions hours after the incident, assessing potential disciplinary sanctions in accordance with its standards of conduct, which members are supposed to respect. The rules prohibit “uninvited and, in the circumstances, inappropriate and undesired physical contact,” which can result in expulsion, public or private reprimands, and the loss of Academy Awards.
The Los Angeles Police Department reported on Monday that Rock, 53, had declined to seek charges. Will Packer, the show’s producer, addressed the situation in a tweet.
“Because there has been so much grief, black people have a defiant spirit of laughing when it comes to dealing with it. I’m not sure why I feel the need to explain that to you “Packer penned an essay. “But I don’t mind being honest and admitting that this was a particularly terrible experience for me. On a number of levels.”
The incident (together with Smith’s remarks during his Best Actor acceptance speech) drew much condemnation on social media, however Pinkett Smith’s Girls Trip costar Tiffany Haddish and Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar Janet Hubert later supported the actor’s behavior following the show.
On Instagram, the original Aunt Viv star remarked, “Yes, there is just so much one can take…sometimes you have to smack back.” “Nothing else matters but celebrating the victory. Both of Chris’ actions were inappropriate, but he didn’t have to go there.”