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‘I feel bad for Will Smith’: Jimmy Kimmel comments on dramatic Oscars incident with Chris Rock

Kimmel also discussed the shocking moment in a podcast aired after the ceremony, revealing he initially thought the moment was staged

Maanya Sachdeva,Roisin O'Connor
Monday 28 March 2022 05:46 BST
Will Smith punches Chris Rock at the Oscars
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Jimmy Kimmel congratulated the Oscars’s “very funny” co-hosts Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes amid the “unpleasantness” of Will Smith hitting Chris Rock.

On Sunday (27 March), Smith yelled at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth” after hitting the comedian onstage at the 94th Academy Awards.

Rock was on stage to present the award for Best Documentary when he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s appearance.

“Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” he quipped in an apparent reference to the actor’s shaved head.

Rock’s comment prompted Smith to stand up and walk on stage, causing the comedian to joke: “Uh oh...”. Smith then proceeded to hit Rock and then walk off stage back to his seat.

Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me,” said Rock, looking visibly shocked at the moment.

Smith, who won the Best Actor Oscar, is then heard yelling: “Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” to which Rock replied: “Wow... dude. It was a GI Jane joke.”

Late-night TV host Kimmel tweeted his support for Schumer, Hall and Sykes, who stepped up as the Oscars’s first hosts since Kevin Hart quit the gig in 2019 over backlash against his homophobic tweets.

Kimmel wrote: “I know the big story is the slap, but congratulations to Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall who were very funny.”

“I hope that isn’t overshadowed by the unpleasantness.”

Will Smith (Chris Pizzello/AP) (AP)

Kimmel also joked about the incident in a Twitter exchange with fellow talk show host Conan O’Brien.

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The former late night show host O’Brien tweeted: “Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?”

“Anytime you want to take it for a spin, it’s yours,” Kimmel responded.

Later, he appeared in a podcast interview with Bill Simmons of The Ringer. Simmons suggested it was “the craziest celebrity altercation ever”.

“Yeah, especially when you consider the characters involved,” Kimmel said. “The nicest guy in Hollywood! If Tom Hanks got up and smacked somebody across the face... it’s the only thing comparable, right?”

He said he “hoped” that Rock didn’t know about Pinkett Smith, who has been vocal about her struggles with alopecia.

Kimmel also revealed that he initially thought the altercation was staged: “I thought something was planned.”

“I feel like we’re gonna be talking about this for a year!” Simmons said, while Kimmel agreed: “I wonder if they’ll put it in the greatest moments montage?”

Kimmel added: “By the way, you have to hand it to Chris Rock... he barely flinched!”

Oscars 2022: Best moments from this year's academy awards

He said Rock handled himself “as well as he possibly could have”.

“You feel bad for a lot of people,” he said. “[The hosts] had some really great moments and now this is what people are gonna be talking about. You feel bad for Questlove [who won the Best Documentary award], and Chris Rock certainly didn’t deserve that.

“But in a way I feel bad for Will Smith too, I think he let his emotions get the better of him and this should have been one of the great nights of his life, and now it’s not... and was there anyone in the world who didn’t like Will Smith... and now he doesn’t have a single comedian friend, that’s for sure. Comedians are really mad, I feel they all feel like they’re next.”

Earlier in the ceremony, Regina Hall – who is hosting the ceremony alongside Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes – poked fun at Smith and Pinkett Smith’s marriage during a ‘hilarious’ skit.

Following the punch, a joke Rock made about Pinkett Smith at the 2016 Oscars resurfaced online.

Find the full list of 2022 Oscar winners here. See the latest updates and reactions from the dramatic ceremony here, and read about the biggest talking points here.

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