Jim Carrey, Nicki Minaj and other celebs unpack Will Smith’s shocking Oscars slap

Two men in tuxes on a stage, one reacting to the other.
Chris Rock, left, and Will Smith onstage during the 94th Academy Awards.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Jim Carrey was “sickened.” Whoopi Goldberg said Will Smith “overreacted.” Nicki Minaj thinks Chris Rock should’ve known better. Jameela Jamil said they were both in the wrong.

By now you know that the biggest shock at the 2022 Oscars came when “King Richard” star Smith slapped Rock on live TV after the comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rock, who was tapped to announce the award for documentary feature, made a punch line out of Pinkett Smith’s bald hairstyle, prompting Smith to rush the stage to confront him. Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia.


Oscar viewers and celebrities took to Twitter after the exchange to call out Smith for being unable to take a joke and condemned the eventual Oscar winner for setting a dangerous example on how to react to comedians. Others made light of the situation and — as expected — crafted memes. Some, including superstars Cher and Bette Midler, missed the moment altogether.

Academy leaders, ABC and the Screen Actors Guild react to Will Smith’s shocking encounter with Chris Rock on the Oscars stage Sunday night.

March 28, 2022

“Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian,” comic Kathy Griffin tweeted. “Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”

“Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault... not so much #UgliestOscarMoment_Ever,” tweeted “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill.

Some pointed out that Smith was defending his wife, while others used the occasion to speak out against the violence and comments Black women and other marginalized folks often are forced to endure in the name of “comedy.”

“Many takes on here about Will Smith and Chris Rock, especially from people whose partners are not Black women (mainly white people),” tweeted author Frederick Joseph. “I don’t care if it’s a joke or not, the amount Black women have to endure — people are tired of it. We have no idea what Jada has gone through.”


Yes, Will Smith just slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards. No, it wasn’t planned. Here’s how Smith later addressed it.

March 27, 2022

Describing it as “a selfish moment” for Smith that cast a shadow over Sunday’s Oscar winners, actor-comedian Carrey took issue with the response inside the Dolby Theatre later that night when Smith was awarded the prize for lead actor.

“I was sickened,” he told CBS’ Gayle King. “I was sickened by the standing ovation. Hollywood is just spineless en masse, and it really felt like this is a really clear indication that we aren’t the cool club anymore.”

Carrey added that, if he were Rock, “I’d have announced this morning that I was suing Will for $200 million because that video is going to be there forever; it’s going to be ubiquitous. That insult is gonna last a very long time. If you want to yell from the audience and show disapproval or say something on Twitter, [that’s fine]. But you do not have the right to walk up onstage and smack somebody in the face because they said words.”

Smith spent his remarkable 30-year career building toward Sunday’s Oscars triumph. With a single, impulsive act, he turned it into a moment of shame.

March 28, 2022

On ABC’s “The View,” which airs on the same network as the Oscars, moderator Goldberg and her co-hosts attempted to unpack the moment Monday. An Oscar winner herself for “Ghost” and an Academy governor, Goldberg said she doesn’t believe Smith’s Academy Award will be taken away and thinks he just “snapped” after years of being a butt of jokes.

“I just think it was a lot of stuff, probably, built up. Because 2016, ‘17, ‘18, ‘19, ‘20, ’21 brought a lot of jokes [about Smith and Pinkett Smith] — some of them really low, some of them OK. I think he overreacted,” Goldberg said. “And in 2016 — Chris was also the host of the Oscars that year — and it was funny. I would have been a little annoyed. ... But I think he had one of those moments where it was just like, ‘G— it. Just stop. Just stop.’ And you got all the pressure of hoping that you win and trying to keep your face. I get it.”

She continued: “Not everybody acts the way we would like them to under pressure. Some people just snap. He snapped. What I do want to say is I think it’s remarkable and wonderful that Chris Rock did not take it to that other place it could have gone. So, I don’t know if they spoke, or if he apologized or not.”


Ana Navarro acknowledged Rock’s joke was “in very poor taste” but added that “nothing, nada, cero condones violence in this form.”

Will Smith was right to apologize for his caveman-like behavior slapping Chris Rock. But his instinct to protect his Black wife was absolutely correct.

March 28, 2022

Rapper Nicki Minaj was among those in disbelief but said she didn’t think Rock would have made the joke “had he known what Jada recently shared.” Still, she found it hard to believe that he and “the whole team @ the #Oscars” were unaware of Pinkett Smith’s health struggle.

“Here’s the thing…,” Minaj tweeted. “And this is such an AMAZING - EYE OPENING example of it ... The husband gets a front row seat to his wife’s pain… he’s the 1 consoling her… drying her tears behind closed doors when those cameras go off. Social media has made ppl feel that these ‘husbands’ won’t ever run into them in real life.”

“You just got to witness in real time what happens in a man’s soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a ‘little joke’ at her expense,” she added. “This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y’all seeing the joke he’s seeing her pain”


“The Good Place” actor Jameela Jamil also stood up for Black women and noted that both Smith and Rock were in the wrong.

“Chris punched down. Will slapped across. Physical behavior is not the only thing to be examined here. The world politely laughing at a woman who has lost her hair, being ridiculed on a world stage … ,” she wrote on Instagram. “Tonight shouldn’t be the start of hitting people over their jokes, but it should be the end of making fun of people’s health issues.”

Chris Rock, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have found themselves at odds before. Remember what happened at the 2016 Oscars?

March 28, 2022

Others remained in Smith’s corner, including rapper 50 Cent, who made light of the situation by posting an image of Smith’s tearful acceptance speech and tweeting, “You have to win Oscars to do this kinda s—. after i win i’m gonna slap the s— out of a few people. LOL”

See more reactions to the exchange below.


Times staff writer Christi Carras contributed to this story.