How the 2022 Oscars Audience Really Reacted to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock

According to multiple Oscars 2022 audience members, the crowd was "in shock" after Will Smith approached Chris Rock onstage and slapped him on live TV.

By Mike Vulpo Mar 28, 2022 3:34 AMTags
Watch: Will Smith SLAPS Chris Rock at Oscars 2022

What just happened?!

That's what viewers of the 2022 Oscars are asking after Will Smith confronted Chris Rock live onstage when the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. According to multiple audience members, the room turned silent after Will appeared to slap Chris inside the Dolby Theatre.

"It seemed like everyone was in shock," one eyewitness shared with E! News. "It felt like no one could believe if it was real or not."

Another audience member provided details about what went down in the next commercial break. According to the eyewitness, Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry offered support to Will as he appeared to wipe tears from his eyes.

Lupita Nyong'o, who was sitting inches away from Will when the exchange started, Tiffany Haddish, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban also went up to check on the couple. 

"People were coming over to Jada and hugging her," an eyewitness said. "A man came and grabbed Will and somebody hugged him like pep talking him."

2022 Oscars Red Carpet Fashion

After the shocking moment, Will stayed in the audience and later earned the award for Best Actor thanks to his performance in King Richard. During his speech, he shared a glimpse into what Denzel told him.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

"At your highest moment, that's when the devil comes to you," Will recalled hearing from his fellow nominee before offering an apology. "I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all of my fellow nominees."

"Love will make you do crazy things," he added. "I'm hoping that the Academy invites me back."

Once he walked off the stage, the camera panned to several audience members inside the Dolby Theatre who delivered a standing ovation. 

To help provide some closure, 2022 Oscars co-host Amy Schumer received the unexpected task of lightening the mood. 

"I've been getting out of my Spider-Man costume. Did I miss anything?" she asked the crowd. "There's like a different vibe in here. But probably not. So anyway..." 

If you miss a minute, you miss a lot at the 2022 Oscars. 

—Reporting by Alli Rosenbloom and Amanda Williams 

Head to E! Online's Oscars page for a full recap of the 2024 Academy Awards.