Will Smith slapping Chris Rock becomes most shocking moment in Oscar history
Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday night after the comedian made a joke about his wife has supplanted every other moment to become the most shocking in Academy Award history.
The remarkable incident, which dominated headlines around the world into Monday morning, sent social media users into a frenzy seconds after it happened and drew comparisons to other memorable moments in the awards show’s history.
Here is the new top five.
1. Will Smith slaps Chris Rock
Some are calling it the slap heard around the world. After Rock cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, the actor hopped out of his seat, got up on the stage and made a b-line for the longtime comic.
Smith hit Rock with an open-hand slap, a blow audible on microphones on the stage that sparked some laughter and some cries of shock from members on the audience.
“Will Smith just smacked the s— out of me,” Rock reacted, clearly stunned.
Initially, members of the audience may have thought the incident was a comic beat, but it quickly became clear that Smith’s anger — and the slap — were real.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f—– mouth,” Smith was heard saying after returning to his seat.
Smith may have been angry because Jada Pinkett Smith has revealed that she had alopecia areata, a disease that causes hair loss. She has frequently discussed the challenges of hair loss on social media.
“Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” Rock had joked.
In a dramatic twist, Smith minutes later won the Oscar for best actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, saying during his acceptance speech “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family.”
Smith apologized to his fellow nominees and the academy for his previous outburst but did not apologize to Rock directly. Police in Los Angeles said overnight Sunday Rock had declined to press charges against Smith and the Academy distanced itself from Smith’s attack.
Normally Smith would return to the Oscars next year to present the award for best actress. There will be questions for the next year on whether that will happen — and whether Smith and Rock will have some kind of public move to reconcile.
2. LA LA Land and Moonlight Best Picture mix-up
In a mistake that became known across Hollywood as “EnvelopeGate,” presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway infamously announced the wrong winner for best picture in 2017.
The pair initially announced LA LA Land as best picture, but when members of the cast and crew eventually took the stage to accept the night’s top honor, they, and the rest of the movie-watching world got quite the surprise.
“I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone La La land. That’s why I took such a long look at Faye … I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Beatty said sheepishly. “This is Moonlight, the best picture.”
The mix-up happened after Beatty was given a second version of a winning nominee card by accounting firm PwC, which officials from the firm say they keep multiple copies of.
It’s hard to image the 2017 gaffe would be toppled so quickly as the most shocking moment in the Oscars. But Smith’s slap clearly knocks it from the top spot
3. David Niven interrupted by a streaker
This moment happened well before the internet or cable television had been invented, but still goes down as one of the most shocking and memorable moments in Oscars history.
Niven was presenting the award for best picture in 1974 when a naked man suddenly appeared behind him and began streaking across the stage and eventually out of the theatre amid uproarious laughter
“Well, that was almost certainly bound to happen,” Niven deadpanned. “Fascinating to think that probably the only love that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”
The streaker was later revealed to be Robert Opel, a photographer and art gallery owner who was posing as a journalist backstage.
4. Marlon Brando refuses best actor award for The Godfather
Brando, one of the most influential actors of the 20th century, shocked the film industry and entertainment world in 1972 when he refused to accept the award for best actor for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.”
Brando did not attend the Oscars that year, and when he was announced as the winner in the best actor category, a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather, president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee took the stage instead.
Brando “very regretfully” would not accept the award, Littlefeather told the stunned crowd, “the reasons being the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and in television in movie re-runs.”
Some in the crowd booed Littlefeather while others applauded and cheered her and Brando in support.
“I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon these evening,” she continued. “And that we in the future, our hearts, and our understandings will meet with love and generosity.”
The Godfather was celebrated at this year’s Oscars for the film’s 50th anniversary. Director Francis Ford Coppola was joined on stage by Al Pacino, who played Michael Corleone, and Robert DeNiro, who in The Godfather Part 2 played a younger Vito Corleone.
5. Frances McDormand advocates for more inclusion riders
After McDormand won an Oscar in 2018 for best actress, she asked every female nominee in that year’s awards show to stand and be recognized.
“Look around ladies and gentlemen,” McDormand said. “Because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.”
McDormand spoke directly to male Hollywood executives in the room, saying “don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight … invite us to your office in a couple days, your you can come to ours and we’ll tell you all about them.”
McDormand left the crowd with two words that evening, which quickly became the talk of Hollywood Twitter after she uttered them: “Inclusion Rider.”
An inclusion rider is a provision in an actor or filmmakers contract that requires a certain level of diversity on the cast and crew and are becoming more commonplace in the modern film industry.
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