Jay Leno on Will Smith’s ‘Disturbing’ Oscar Behavior: ‘It’s Real Anger’

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Jay Leno reflects on Will Smith’s behavior at the Oscars, where he slapped Chris Rock in the face for a joke he made on his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head.

the old “Tonight’s Show” The host described the ‘King Richard’ actor as a ‘good guy’ but admitted the behavior he displayed on live television during the 94th Academy Awards was ‘disturbing’. However, for Leno, the slap wasn’t the part that shocked him the most.

“For me, the most disturbing thing was not the slap, because he smiled a little after slapping [Rock]“, Leno told the Palm Beach Daily News this week.

“It was the screams of the obscenities. Then you’re like, ‘Whoa. What’s going on here? This is real anger,'” the comedian said.

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Jay Leno says he was more disturbed by Smith's shouting at Rock than when he slapped the comedian onstage.

Jay Leno says he was more disturbed by Smith’s shouting at Rock than when he slapped the comedian onstage.
(Screenshot/ABC | Getty Images)

“Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2’, I can’t wait to see it, okay?” Rock, 57, had joked about the 1997 film “GI Jane,” which starred Demi Moore, who shaved her head to portray a fictional Navy SEAL candidate.

Pinkett Smith, 50, revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with alopecia. The actress has often discussed the challenges of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.

The joke missed, badly.

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Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards.

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards.
(Getty Images)

Smith, 53, took to the stage from his front row seat and swung Rock with an open palm, generating a loud slap. Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a “GI Jane” joke – and Smith yelled at him a second time.

Smith yelled at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth”, and the crowd fell silent when it became clear it wasn’t an act.

The moment shocked audiences at the Dolby Theater and viewers at home. At the commercial break, anchor Daniel Kaluuya went to hug Smith and Denzel Washington escorted him to the side of the stage. The two talked and hugged and Tyler Perry also came over to talk.

The incident led to an investigation by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Leno shared his opposition to the investigation.

“What are you investigating?” Leno said. “It must have been the most recorded assault in history. I saw the back of his shoe, I saw Chris’ ear. There were so many cameras on this incident. What are you investigating I know sometimes things are exactly what they seem to be.”

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith attend the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
(Rich Fury/VF22/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Ultimately, the academy announced its decision to ban Smith from Oscars for 10 years. The decision came after a meeting of the academy’s board to discuss a response to Smith’s actions. A week before the meeting, the actor resigned from the academy.

“The 94th Academy Awards were meant to be a celebration of the many people in our community who did an incredible job last year. However, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and damaging behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage” , the board of governors said in a letter.

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“During our TV show, we did not adequately address the situation in the room. For that, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our academic family around the world, and we failed – unprepared for the unprecedented.

“Today the Board of Governors called a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith’s actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation. The Board decided, for a period of 10 years from of April 8, 2022, that Mr. Smith will not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including, but not limited to, the Academy Awards.

“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. Rock for keeping his composure under extraordinary circumstances. We would also like to thank our hosts, nominees, presenters and winners for their composure and grace during our television show .

The marquee advertises Chris Rock as ticket holders wait to enter outside the Wilbur Theater, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Boston.  The comedian is continuing to perform for audiences across the country following the viral Oscar slap.

The marquee advertises Chris Rock as ticket holders wait to enter outside the Wilbur Theater, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Boston. The comedian is continuing to perform for audiences across the country following the viral Oscar slap.
(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

“This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step towards a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests and restoring trust in the academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”

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“I accept and respect the decision of the academy,” Smith said in a statement after the verdict.

Smith announced his resignation in a statement on April 1, saying he had “betrayed the trust of the academy.” Smith added that he “deprived the other nominees and winners” of their chance to celebrate, and said he would accept any further consequences from the board.

Smith first apologized for his actions minutes after slapping Rock, when he received his best actor award for his role in ‘King Richard’.

Jay Leno weighed in on cancel culture last September, saying comedians have a choice either

Jay Leno weighed in on cancel culture last September, saying comedians have a choice to “change with the times or die.”
(Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

“I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all of my fellow nominees,” Smith said. “It’s a beautiful moment.”

Smith apologized again in an Instagram post the following day, tagging the comedian.

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“Violence in any form is toxic and destructive,” Smith wrote. “My behavior at the Oscars last night was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of place and wrong. I’m embarrassed and my actions weren’t indicative of the man I want to be. There’s no room for violence in a world of love and kindness.

Rock has yet to publicly share his thoughts on the incident. However, on his first comedy show after the Oscars in Boston, he told a crowd that he “is still processing what happened.”

“At some point, I’ll talk about this s—, and it’ll be serious, and it’ll be funny,” Rock shared.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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