Who Supports Who? Chris Rock Vs. Will Smith

Some critics have called it "The Slap Heard Around the World." At the 94th Academy Awards held in late March 2022, Will Smith shocked viewers when he walked on stage and smacked Chris Rock across the face, the two coming to blows after the comedian made a joke about "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star's wife's hair. Jada Pinkett Smith had been open about her diagnosis of alopecia, a disorder which causes hair loss; she showed up to the Oscars rocking a shaved head, causing Rock to joke that she looked like she was gearing up to star in "GI Jane 2." After promptly returning to his seat, the "King Richard" actor yelled to Rock, "Keep my wife's name out your f***ing mouth!"

In the ensuing days, Will would publicly apologize to Rock on Instagram, and eventually resign from the Academy. But the infamous headline-making moment, combined with the fact that Will won and accepted an award for best actor mere moments after the on-air squabble, quickly divided Hollywood. Was his emotional speech about protecting his loved ones merely a cover-up for a man who couldn't control his temper, or was the slap an inspiring display of a man standing up for his wife against a comic who should have known better than to joke about someone's medical condition? 

Celebs from all around the pop culture universe, at every level of fame, chimed in on the debate in the ensuing days, announcing themselves as either Team Will or Team Chris. Here's a breakdown of who supports whom.

Judd Apatow picked sides early

Judd Apatow was one of the first Hollywood stars to pick sides, tweeting a strong condemnation of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock shortly after the incident took place. "He could have killed him. That's pure out of control rage and violence," the "Knocked Up" director wrote in a since-deleted Twitter thread, which was widely screencapped and re-shared online. Apatow also wrote that he wasn't even sure what the big deal was with Rock's initial joke, anyway. "GI Jane was gorgeous," he said. "What exactly is insulting about being compared to a ripped, stunning Demi [Moore]?"

Apatow's contribution to the discourse did not go well for him. The "Freaks and Geeks" creator had also retweeted someone noting that the incident reflects the way that abuse is often ignored on film sets, leading fans to point out that Apatow himself ran the set of that particular television show, which is where James Franco allegedly assaulted Busy Phillipps. "judd apatow rt this is so funny when u remember he let james franco get away with grabbing busy phillips and throwing her on the ground during filming of freaks and geeks," one person alleged in response.

Tiffany Haddish took her friend's side

Tiffany Haddish starred in "Girls Trip" alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, and she once went mega-viral for telling a story about attending a swamp tour with Jada and husband Will Smith on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" back in 2017. It makes sense, then, that Haddish was firmly on Will's side in the altercation with Chris Rock. In particular, Haddish said she was touched by what the "King Richard" star referred to in his acceptance speech as his calling to "protect" the women in his life.

"When I saw a Black man stand up for his wife. That meant so much to me," Haddish told People after the awards ceremony concluded, speaking with the magazine at the prestigious Governors Ball afterparty. "And maybe the world might not like how it went down, but for me, it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives."

Haddish, who rocked a short hairstyle at the Oscars, also told the outlet that she spoke with Jada following the slap. In particular, she offered some particularly salacious advice for how Jada could thank Will for his actions. "I went up to her and said, 'You better suck his d*** from the back, girl!'" Haddish relayed.

OJ Simpson knows what it's like to take a joke

It seems that everyone has opinions on Will Smith and Chris Rock's altercation and isn't afraid to share them, including none other than former football player and actor OJ Simpson, the man acquitted of the murders of estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. As he often does about current events, Simpson chimed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding what he called an "unfortunate" situation in a front-facing camera video posted to Twitter. In the video, which was captioned, "He was wrong but I understand the sentiment," Simpson explained why he gets what it's like to have to take jokes you don't want to just accept. "In my life, I've been through a lot of crap. I was raising two kids, and every comedian in the country had a OJ routine. And don't think I wouldn't wanna b-slap a couple of those guys, but you gotta accept it. It's humor."

Given Simpson's own controversial past, plenty of Twitter users were surprised to see the "Naked Gun" actor opening himself up to potential backlash. One Twitter user, for example, even sarcastically claimed in response, "hell yeah OJ! you've always defended your wife."

The incident made Lamar Odom reflect on his marriage

The unavoidable dynamics of the Will Smith vs. Chris Rock on-stage slap were that the former was reacting to a joke the latter had just made about his wife, so a number of celebrities who have offered their opinions on the scandal have focused on that aspect of the situation. Former basketball star Lamar Odom was no different, using the matter as a jumping-off point to discuss his own failings as a husband to Khloé Kardashian.

On Instagram, Odom shared a shot of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith sitting at the 2022 Oscars, foreheads touching and looking one another in the eyes. "I see everyone arguing the merits of this altercation, taking side, dragging them both to hell when it all boils down to love. He loves his wife. She was hurting, it is a husband's responsibility to protect his wife," Odom wrote in part, adding that — while he does not condone violence himself — this was enough of a reason to do what Will did and that he didn't think the "King Richard" actor should have to explain himself any further. Odom concluded, "Had I protected my wife versus mentally, emotionally and spiritually hurting her, I may still be married."

Kardashian, of course, finalized her divorce from Odom in 2016 following widely publicized cheating and drug-related controversies. During an episode of "Celebrity Big Brother" in February 2022, Odom confirmed that he still carries a torch for his ex-wife.

Mark Hamill sort of changed his mind

"Star Wars" star Mark Hamill is a prolific Twitter user, frequently commenting on current events in discussions with his followers, in addition to promoting the various projects he is involved with. So when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, the actor quickly took to the social media platform to offer his opinion, and he was not on Smith's side, to say the least. "Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault... not so much. #UgliestOscarMoment_Ever," Hamill tweeted, attaching a photo of a shocked-looking Rock moments after Smith's hand made contact.

Many fans in Hamill's mentions pointed out that the Academy Awards have had a significant number of ugly and controversial moments over the years, including giving trophies to numerous suspected abusers. There was also that time John Wayne had to be restrained from attacking Sacheen Littlefeather while she accepted an award on Marlon Brando's behalf.

After listening to the concerns of his fans, Hamill took back the hashtag. "Many took exception to the hashtag. Thought it was ugly... just not the ugliest. #OscarLowlights," he clarified alongside an infamous meme of Batman slapping Robin. Hamill, of course, has voiced The Joker in numerous DC Comics properties, so it seems this tweet may have been an attempt to regain his supporters' appreciation.

Tim Allen loves a controversial joke

"Last Man Standing" star Tim Allen has told a controversial joke or two in his long career as a comedian, stretching from his time on "Home Improvement" up through the present day. In 2013, for example, he argued in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times that he, as a white man, should be allowed to say the N-word. "If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can 'n*****' be bad coming out of my mouth?" he insisted, fully using the racist slur. Major yikes.

When the comedian saw Chris Rock get slapped over a joke, Allen took to Twitter to tell fans that he was worried about what lessons audiences would learn from Will Smith's actions. "It's not ok to come up on stage and hit a dude cause you don't like the humor," Allen tweeted. "It's not ok at a Comedy Club, concert hall or hosting some cheeseball award show." He also took some time to commend Rock for how he handled the incident, adding, "Chris Rock is a stand up comedian and a standup guy who carried on. I think I would have run."

Kathy Griffin expressed her fears

Like Tim Allen, Kathy Griffin seemed concerned after the 2022 Oscars by what might happen now at comedy clubs when audience members don't like the jokes they are hearing. The comedian herself is known for telling harsh jokes about fellow celebs, so moments after she watched Chris Rock get slapped by Will Smith for telling a joke about his wife, Griffin took to Twitter to tell her fans she feared repercussions. "Let me tell you something, it's a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters," she wrote.

Griffin then faced backlash from Twitter users for expressing these fears. Someone, for example, claimed in part that she was "being disingenuous or lacks critical thinking skills." Griffin quote-tweeted the person, adding, "Pssst. You're misogyny is showing. Unless you're also a professional comic, who has sold out live comedy shows at the Dolby Theatre as I have, you don't have any credibility here." 

Interestingly enough, it turns out Griffin has a personal connection to one of the stars involved in the altercation: Back in the day, the comic appeared in an episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," playing a reporter named Susan Klein. When a fan online pointed out her appearance years ago on Twitter, Griffin jokingly replied, "Well...I taught Will Smith everything he knows."

Janet Hubert took her TV nephew's side

After "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star Will Smith gave Chris Rock an on-stage smackdown, the show's original Aunt Viv leapt to her former TV nephew's defense. Captioning an image of Smith, Janet Hubert wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post (via Entertainment Weekly) that she wanted to focus on the fact that he won an Oscar for best actor thanks to his starring role in "King Richard" rather than the on-stage drama. The slap, in other words, wasn't the point. "So PROUD OF YOU!" Hubert wrote. "Yes, there is only so much one can take...sometimes you have to slap back. Celebrate the win...nothing else matters. Both actions were incorrect but Chris didn't need to go there." 

It's worth pointing out that Hubert — who made amends with Smith during their sitcom's 2020 HBO Max reunion special after decades of feuding — seems to not be a massive fan of Rock's, either, as she let her followers in on a behind-the-scenes encounter that apparently turned sour: "Met him once.... it was enough for me.... Very mean spirited." 

She deleted the latter post, as well, and then uploaded a front-facing camera video addressing the controversy, in which she pushed back against commenters who had suggested that she should have stayed out of the fray. "Yesterday is just that...MOVE ON...be careful who you come for...I bite," she captioned the video, "and I will not apologize."

Jameela Jamil was Team Will

Never one to shy away from sharing her opinions on social media, "The Good Place" star Jameela Jamil took to Twitter to defend Will Smith's actions several hours after the ceremony ended. "Will Smith said 'Not Today'. A man big enough to absolutely floor him, slapped him softly enough that Chris [Rock] barely moved, because he made fun of his wife's alopecia on a world stage," Jamil wrote. She then connected the incident to the conversation about race that has been ongoing for the last several years on social media. "Don't say #protectBlackwomen for two years and then only condemn Will here. Come on..." the actor concluded, attaching a quote from Malcolm X.

As the controversy continued to rage online in the successive days, Jamil continued to chime in. "I'm triggered/traumatized/harmed/haunted and murdered by how many people who saw two friends of 30 years have an awful and deeply personal, private altercation, publicly, and have made it about themselves," the "Legendary" judge tweeted, referencing how many people claimed to have had an emotional reaction to the slap. Reminding her followers of the war going on in Ukraine, Jamil noted that maybe this Oscars narrative didn't need to continue to define the public narrative.

Zoe Kravitz was not Team Will

Zoë Kravitz shared photos of herself in her Academy Awards looks on Instagram several days after the event took place, sharing one post for the main ceremony and one for the legendary Vanity Fair afterparty. "here's a picture of my dress at the award show where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now," she wrote in the caption for the former photo, and for the latter, she wrote, "and here is a picture of my dress at the party after the award show -where we are apparently assaulting people on stage now."

After receiving pushback for her captions, Kravitz limited the comments on the posts. On Twitter, however, fans continued to react, including resurfacing an interview where Kravitz talked about Jaden Smith, Will Smith's son, when he was younger. In a V Magazine interview (via Hot New Hip Hop), Kravitz had said that she used to hang out with Jaden and often had to remind herself that he was significantly younger than she was at the time. "He has so much personality and so much swag, he is so much cooler than I am," she said back in 2013. "And he's so handsome, I was always like, when you're older, you know, we'll hang out. ... Nope, that's inappropriate, you're 14."

Inappropriate, indeed, agreed several Twitter users. "Nothing will ever beat how quickly the internet will switch up on someone. Yesterday Zoe Kravitz was the sexiest woman ever and today she has to beat predator allegations," one fan wrote.

The slap was a hot topic on The View

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the co-hosts on "The View" seemed split on the issue of Will Smith vs. Chris Rock, with Whoopi Goldberg at first offering a defense of the former while everyone else landed somewhere in the middle. Goldberg, an Oscar winner and an Academy Awards Governor, noted that sometimes people just don't behave the way they are expected. "Not everybody acts the way we like them to under pressure. Some people just snap. He snapped," she said (via People), before offering kudos to Rock for remaining calm under pressure. "All I know is sometimes you get to a point and you behave badly," Goldberg concluded. 

Because the online discussion about the incident continued for days, "The View" continued to talk about the fallout in subsequent shows. As a governor within the Academy, Goldberg is likely privy to conversations happening behind the scenes about what, if any, repercussions Smith should face; while she declined to go into specifics, Goldberg did hint to her co-hosts (via Deadline), "There are consequences. There are big consequences because nobody is OK with what happened. Nobody, nobody, nobody."

On "The View's" third day of talking about the headline-making incident, the hosts picked apart the discourse's focus on the race of the people directly involved in the slap. Sunny Hostin, for example, categorically rejected the idea that Smith's actions should reflect on Black people at all, saying (via Deadline), "What Will Smith did was immature, and it was childish and it was violent, but that was on Will Smith and no one else."

Howard Stern compared Will Smith to Donald Trump

Shock jock Howard Stern is not particularly known for his nuanced takes, but the SiriusXM DJ came down on the side of common decency in the dispute between Will Smith and Chris Rock. On his radio show, Stern said (via Deadline) that he was particularly surprised no one broke up the fight. "Obviously, he's got emotional problems," Stern prescribed. "Where's security? This is a live television event. Not one person came out, because he's Will Smith. ... This is a sign of great mental illness when you can't control your impulse." 

Stern then went a step further, comparing Smith's apparent lack of impulse control to a certain ex-president. "This is how Trump gets away with s**t. Will Smith and Trump are the same guy," Stern insisted, per Yahoo! News.

Several days later, as the controversy continued to swirl around the pop culture sphere, Stern took a fellow celebrity to task for chiming in on the situation. Taking issue with OJ Simpson's abovementioned Twitter video about the altercation, Stern said on his show, "He says, 'A lot of people are asking me about it.' Yeah, they're asking you about it because they know you're a f***ing maniac, and it would be funny and hypocritical to hear you comment on an act of violence."

Rosie O'Donnell was surprised by the Academy's inaction

Another comedian who took Chris Rock's side was Rosie O'Donnell, a former co-host of "The View" who frequently made headlines on that show for sharing her opinions forcefully (which is par for the course for "The View"). Shortly after the controversial moment occurred, O'Donnell wrote on Twitter that she was upset by what she had witnessed. However, she took the time to offer some particular kudos to Rock for showing restraint in the face of being attacked. "bravo to Chris Rock – for not eviscerating will smith – which he could do any day of the week – he walked away," she tweeted. Toward Will Smith, however, O'Donnell then added, "bravo from a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman."

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement that same night indicating that they do "not condone violence of any form," O'Donnell jumped in the Academy's mentions, questioning why they did not remove Smith from the ceremony the moment the altercation took place. "they [sic] why did you do NOTHING ?" she wrote, to no response.

Jim Carrey was 'sickened' by the slap

The internet doesn't play around when people have receipts for inappropriate behavior hiding in their past. One such celeb who found that out in the wake of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars was none other than Jim Carrey, star of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." While promoting that film on "CBS Mornings," Carrey had some harsh words for not just Smith, but the entire audience at the Oscars who gave him a standing ovation when he won best actor moments after the altercation. 

"I was sickened by the standing ovation," he said (via Extra TV). "I felt like Hollywood is just spineless, en masse, and ... it really felt like, 'Oh, this is a really clear indication that we're not the cool club anymore.'" When host Gayle King noted that Rock declined to press charges, Carrey said he would have sued Smith to the tune of $200 million, noting, "Because that video's gonna be there forever, it's gonna be ubiquitous."

Social media erupted after Carrey's comments aired, noting that the actor himself has a history of controversial behavior at awards shows. For example, back at the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, according to the Independent, Carrey planted an unexpected kiss on Alicia Silverstone when she presented him with an award. The outlet noted that Carrey reportedly apologized to the "Clueless" star backstage afterwards, as she was upset by the interaction. Many Twitter users noted that Carrey even attempted to kiss Will Smith at that very same awards show.

Bethenny Frankel offered an odd alternative

"The Real Housewives of New York City" alum Bethenny Frankel posted a TikTok video to Instagram to promote her podcast "Just B with Bethenny Frankel," wherein she discussed the Will Smith vs. Chris Rock situation. In the caption, she seemed firmly on the side of the latter, arguing that violence is always wrong. "Had @willsmith expressed that @chrisrock comment was hurtful & damaging, the impact would have been so much more powerful than using violence as an instant gratification tool," Frankel wrote. However, she did note of Rock's joke that "the comment was in poor taste."

In the clip, Frankel echoed the confusion that many viewers felt while watching the slap live on television. Wondering aloud whether the joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair had been written and approved ahead of time, or whether Rock had ad-libbed it in the moment, the Skinnygirl maven also offered an unusual alternative for how Will still could have received his best actor statuette without having him get up on stage moments after attacking someone. "Will Smith should have been escorted out immediately after and gotten his award by carrier pigeon," Frankel joked.

Alec Baldwin had some harsh words for Will Smith

Alec Baldwin had been laying low for a few months leading up to the 2022 Oscars, mostly avoiding the media spotlight given his involvement in the ongoing developments in the tragic on-set shooting of "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. Still, the former "30 Rock" star tossed his two cents into the ongoing Will Smith vs. Chris Rock fray. He tweeted (via E! News), "I am not reading much about how, or even if, the producers attended to Chris. But I love you, @chrisrock. And I'm sorry the Oscars turned into the Jerry Springer Show."

Perhaps predictably, the internet wasn't exactly having it. Baldwin swiftly received backlash for his comments, with many suggesting that he was being hypocritical thanks to his own past involvement in some violent incidents. One user tweeted a number of photos depicting Baldwin attacking paparazzi photographers. Meanwhile, others ran down a list of the times the star himself has allegedly behaved like a guest on "The Jerry Springer Show," with another person taking to Twitter with, "Alec Baldwin physically assaulted at least 3 photographers, was kicked off a flight for being belligerent, verbally abused police officers in NYC, called his 11 year old daughter a 'thoughtless pig', punched a man over a parking spot, & killed someone on set. SIT THIS ONE OUT."

In the ensuing controversy, Baldwin locked his Twitter account; his Instagram, however, where he had reposted his abovementioned tweet, has remained public.

Wanda Sykes 'physically felt ill'

Wanda Sykes co-hosted the 2022 Academy Awards alongside Regina Hall and Amy Schumer, which means she had a unique view of the controversial moment ... except, well, she missed it! During a follow-up appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Sykes told the former Oscars host that she was between her trailer and the venue's house when the actual slap happened, and that all she'd manage to catch was Will Smith leaving the stage from a monitor backstage. The comic said she was in disbelief, unsure whether what she had witnessed was planned or if it was actually going down in real time. 

"I just felt so awful for my friend, Chris [Rock]," Sykes recalled. "It was sickening. It was absolutely sick — I physically felt ill. And I'm still a little traumatized by it." Remembering the moments of confusion that followed the altercation, the comedian concluded that she thought it was "gross" that Smith was allowed to remain in the room and to accept his best actor trophy mere moments after attacking someone. "This is just the wrong message," Sykes said. "You assault somebody? You get escorted out the building, and that's it."

In the days following the incident, sources differed on whether Smith had been asked to leave and refused, or whether he was not, after all, told to get out.

Nicki Minaj warned men who joke about others' wives

Nicki Minaj knows a thing or two about courting controversy. The rapper has dealt with numerous ups and downs throughout her record-breaking career, including multiple high-profile feuds with other celebs ranging from Cardi B to Miley Cyrus. Given the way the entire internet was discussing the case of Will Smith vs. Chris Rock, aka the latest celeb feud to take over pop culture, it was no surprise when Minaj weighed in on the scandal.

In a string of tweets, the "Anaconda" hitmaker firmly came down on the side of Team Will. "You just got to witness in real time what happens in a man's soul when he looks over to the woman he loves & sees her holding back tears from a 'little joke' at her expense," she wrote. "This is what any & every real man feels in that instant. while y'all seeing the joke he's seeing her pain." In other words, Minaj very much supports a man defending his wife, even if it comes down to violence ... a point Minaj made very clear in a follow-up tweet, where she predicted that Smith's actions would lead to consequences for others. "2022 y'all gon have to see these men about those jokes you made about their wives," the rapper tweeted.

Minaj previously expressed her admiration for Jada Pinkett Smith online, tweeting alongside a red heart emoji back in 2019, "If y'all know me y'all know Jada has been my idol since 'a different world.'"