Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock: What Unfolded Behind the Scenes at the Oscars Immediately After the Incident

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The 2022 Oscars will forever be remembered for the so-called slap heard 'round the world, when Will Smith stormed onstage and slapped presenter Chris Rock in the face before returning to his seat and proceeding to cuss him out, all over a joke Rock made at the expense of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

The moment was unsettling, unexpected, confusing and changed the atmosphere for the remainder of the evening. But as chaotic as things were in the theater, a source tells ET that it was much more so backstage.

"Behind the scenes there were a lot of people, different voices and opinions all weighing in on what had just happened, and what was the right course of action," the source says of the moments immediately following the altercation.

The moment came as a surprise to all involved, and even the producers of the show apparently had to figure out if this was an unplanned stunt between Smith and Rock, and if Rock was hurt.

"There were just minutes to first figure out if it was a stunt," the source recalls, "and then try and get people on the same page including the producers, ABC, the Academy, reps -- who were not all in the same place physically or looking at their phones in real time."

The sources adds that "people were checking that Chris Rock was OK.... and to see if Chris even wanted to press charges."

In a statement to ET on Sunday night, after the Oscars came to a close, the LAPD said they were aware of the incident but that "the individual involved has declined to file a police report."

"LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program," the statement read. "The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report."

The source says that "having Will removed [from the ceremony] was definitely discussed seriously."

"You can't plan for something like this and make a split second decision that needs everyone’s approval," the source adds, explaining -- in part -- why the actor was not removed from the event.

Rock, who has made a joke about Pinkett Smith before at the 2016 Oscars, took another jab at her on Sunday night when he said, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it." (Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder which causes bald spots and hair loss.) Moments later, Smith walked onto the stage and slapped him in the mouth. Smith then walked offstage and cursed at Rock from his seat, yelling, "Leave my wife's name out of your f**king mouth."

Shortly after the altercation, Smith was awarded the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in King Richard. Smith -- who was comforted by Denzel Washington, Tyler Perry and Bradley Cooper after the incident -- emotionally apologized to the Academy during his speech, though he didn't apologize to Rock at the time.

On Monday, Smith issued an apology to Rock, sharing a statement to social media that read, "Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."

Smith also apologized again to the Academy, as well as the Williams family and the cast and crew of King Richard for his behavior.
 
"I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family," Smith wrote. "I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will."

However, despite the apology, another source tells ET that Rock and Smith have not patched things up.

As for what the Academy thinks, on Sunday, they posted a statement to Twitter, which read, "The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world."

The following day, the Academy launched a formal review into the incident.

"The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show," the statement read. "We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law." 

For more on the controversial altercation, see the video below.

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