Jada Pinkett Smith has directly addressed her husband Will Smith’s infamous Oscars slap for the first time, revealing her first words to him after the shocking incident.
The 2022 Academy Awards was thrown into turmoil after Will strode onto the stage and struck presenter Chris Rock across the face in response to a joke he made about Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, which is a result of her alopecia.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth” at the stage,” Will yelled while walking back to his seat next to Jada. Minutes later, he went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the sports drama King Richard.
The controversial moment resulted in Will, 55, being banned from Academy events for 10 years and saw the Oscars put in place new crisis measures for the ceremony that took place this year.
Eighteen months since the altercation, and Jada, 52, has finally spoken about her immediate reaction and how she felt in the aftermath, in a wide-ranging interview that also addressed the state of their marriage.
“I thought, ‘This is a skit,’” she told People in a new interview. “I was like, ‘There’s no way that Will hit him.’”
She recalled: “It wasn’t until Will started to walk back to his chair that I even realised it wasn’t a skit.”
She remembers the first words she said to him once they were alone, were: “Are you okay?”
In his first late-night talk show appearance following the fiasco, Will told The Daily Show with Trevor Noah that he was “going through something that night”, attributing his actions to “bottled rage”.
The Men in Black actor later apologised to the Academy and Rock for his “unacceptable behaviour”.
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview with the magazine, in promotion of her forthcoming memoir, Worthy, Pinkett Smith shared insight into the couple’s marriage.
“We’re still figuring it out,” she said, sharing that she and Will have been separated for seven years.
“We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together. We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us,” the Girls Trip actor said. “I’m going to be by his side, but also allow him to have to figure this out for himself.”
As for her children, Pinkett Smith praised them for how they’ve helped her grow. “My children, they’re little gurus. They’ve taught me a deep sense of self-acceptance.”
The couple share two children, 25-year-old Jaden and 22-year-old Willow.
Worthy is out on 17 October.