Jay Leno was in the audience at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles for the Oscars last month when Will Smith, unhappy about a joke presenter Chris Rock had just made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, stepped on stage and slapped him. While that moment was shocking to everyone there – and the millions of people watching – it was what happened next, when Smith yelled twice at Rock, “Keep it up. my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” which tagged it.
“For me, the most disturbing thing was not the slap, because he smiled a little after slapping [Rock]”, the former host of The show tonight say it Palm Beach Daily News before a concert in West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s real anger.”
Smith, who Leno considers a “good guy”, stayed put and won Best Actor for his role in King Richard. During his acceptance speech, he talked about standing up for his family — the joke poked fun at his wife’s alopecia — and apologized to the Academy and the rest of the public. Rock refused to press charges, so Smith was not arrested. A day later, Smith publicly apologized to Rock, and event officials said they plan to investigate.
For Leno, the latter seemed pointless, since the slap was done in full view of the cameras.
“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 that sometimes things are exactly what they seem.”
Many other people in the room, including co-host Wanda Sykes, who described the violence as “sickening”, while co-host Amy Schumer called the incident “traumatic”.
Less than a week after the slap, Smith resigned from the Academy. Her board of governors, which includes movie veterans such as Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay and Laura Dern, announced on April 8 that they had voted to ban her from Academy events for 10 years. They didn’t take back his Oscar.