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Oscars 2022: Richard Madeley and Jameela Jamil among stars reacting to Will Smith hitting Chris Rock

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Hollywood stars Judd Apatow and Kathy Griffin, Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Madeley, and actor Jameela Jamil were among those who took to social media to react to Will Smith, after he struck Chris Rock on stage during the Oscars.

Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary when he made a joke about Smith’s wife 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.

Smith walked on stage – prompting Rock to say, “uh oh” – and struck the comedian, yelling “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth”.

The shocking incident made for possibly the most dramatic Oscars ceremony in the history of the Academy Awards.

On GMB’s episode on Monday morning (28 March), Madeley criticised Oscar attendees who claimed they “didn’t see” the on-stage altercation.

Speaking to Ross King who was reporting live from the red carpet of the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Madeley said: “It's amazing Ross how many you're talking to didn't see it!”

Gesturing to his phone, Madeley added: “They've got these, you can call it up and see it as often as you'd like... That's Hollywood.”

Jamil, meanwhile, was among the stars to defend Smith.

The Good Place actor tweeted a Malcolm X quote about defending Black women in America with the caption: “Will Smith said ‘Not Today’. A man big enough to absolutely floor him, slapped him softly enough that Chris barely moved, because he made fun of his wife’s alopecia on a world stage.

“Don’t say #protectBlackwomen for two years and then only condemn Will here. Come on…”

In a since-deleted tweet, Knocked Up director Judd Apatow was highly critical of Smith’s actions.

“He could have killed him,” he claimed. “That’s pure out of control rage and violence. They’ve heard a million jokes about them in the last three decades. They are not freshman in the world of Hollywood and comedy. He lost his mind.”

Author, professor and social commentator Roxane Day called Apatow out for his remark, tweeting in response: “This is a wild thing to say Judd. As a fan, I urge you to really rethink this. It was not uncontrolled violence. The video is widely available so you know this.”

Comedian Kathy Griffin expressed her concern that Smith’s actions would make life more dangerous for people in her profession. “Let me tell you something, it’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a comedian,” she wrote on Twitter. “Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”

Rapper 50 Cent, on the other hand, captioned an image of the slap with the line: “B**** don’t you ever play with me. LOL”

US Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, too, deleted a tweet about the incident, however, in hers, she praised Smith for defending his wife.

Presley, who has spoken about suffering from alopecia herself, wrote: “#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults.”

Presley wasn’t the only US politician to comment. Jamaal Bowman also tweeted and deleted: “Teachable Moment: Don’t joke about a Black Woman’s hair.”

Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson commented: “What a very west Philly Oscars,” while Smith’s former Fresh Prince of Bel Air co-star Jazzy Jeff tweeted simply: “What was that????”

Colman Domingo had a similar reaction to Brunson, telling Variety’s Marc Malkin on the Vanity Fair Oscar Party red carpet: "I thought, he's from West Philly, just like I'm from West Philly. We're very passionate people."

“I think he understood his shortcoming in that moment”, Domingo said of Smith’s speech, during which he apologised to the Academy and his fellow nominees but not Rock, “because he’s such a graceful and actually gentle human being”.

LaKeith Stanfield called the moment “surreal”. “It’s just surreal because of the place it happened in. But, you know, in places all over the world, real stuff be happening,” he told Variety.

Conan O’Brien meanwhile joked that he was sad not to have the opportunity to discuss the incident on air. “Just saw the Will Smith slap,” he wrote. “Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?”

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel referenced Smith’s starring role on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Rock’s role voicing puppet Lil Penny in a series of Nike commercials. “What was the vegas line on the fresh prince punching little penny in the face?” joked Kimmel.

Smith’s son, actor and rapper Jaden, tweeted: “And That’s How We Do It”.

He also shared a selfie with the caption: “My Dads Speech Made Me Cry.”

Former One Direction star-turned-solo singer Liam Payne admitted he was so shocked by the incident he left his seat.

Many others found the incident less amusing.

“It was just a joke,” actor Mia Farrow tweeted. “Jokes are what Chris Rock does. Always has been edgy. This was a mild joke for him. And I love GI Jane.”

Will Smith hitting Chris Rock onstage at the 2022 Oscars (Chris Pizzello/AP) (AP)
Will Smith hitting Chris Rock onstage at the 2022 Oscars (Chris Pizzello/AP) (AP)

““Violence isn’t ok. Assault is never the answer,” tweeted actor Sophia Bush. “Also? This is the second time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the Oscars stage, and tonight he went after her alopecia.

“Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather.”

Black-ish creator Kenya Barris said to Malkin, “You’re not getting me to say s**” about the Smith incident,” before commenting: “We’re living in such a social media time where people feel like everything is just up for grabs; it’s not.”

He added: “There need to be a clear distinction between work and home. We've gotten it confused.”

During his Best Actor winner’s speech for King Richard, Smith shared what Denzel Washington told him in the aftermath of the incident.

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

Earlier in the ceremony, Regina Hall – who was hosting the ceremony alongside Schumer and Wanda Sykes – poked fun at Smith and Pinkett Smith’s marriage.

It has since emerged that Smith made a joke about the drama on his Instagram page shortly after the altercation took place.

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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