Last night’s slap heard around the world wasn’t Will Smith being hysterical, it was historical. The 2022 Academy Awards was supposed to be the biggest night of the King Richard actor’s career, but it was quickly eclipsed when he slapped Chris Rock in the face during the show. The comedian was presenting an award when he made a G.I. Jane joke aimed at Jada Pinkett Smith, likely inspired by her shaved haircut. Smith walked onstage shortly after, striking Rock on his cheek, and yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.” While the trio appeared to be friendly at previous events, Rock has made jokes throughout his career at the Smiths’ expense, which could have potentially caused strain between them and likely exacerbated the Oscars situation.
Looking back, the tense moment now feels like the culmination of a history of strife between the couple and the comedian. Rock previously stood on that same stage to host the 2016 Academy Awards and used Pinkett Smith’s Oscars boycott that year as a source of inspiration for his monologue, saying she wouldn’t have been invited to the event in the first place. Oscars attendees are well aware that they might become the targets of jabs from hosts and presenters during the show, but it seems like the confrontation between these two had been a long time coming. Here’s a look at the history between Chris Rock and the Smiths over the years that might have led to what is now one of the most-talked-about moments in the Academy’s history.