Jessica Chastain On Accepting Her Oscar Shortly After Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock At The Academy Awards

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This year’s Academy Awards ceremony was quite “interesting” compared to others, and that’s not just because Zack Snyder’s Justice League nabbed “Oscars cheer moment.” The vibe of the evening took a turn when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage after the comedian made a joke in reference to his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. In the aftermath, a number of stars (both those who were present and those who were not) have weighed in on the situation. Jessica Chastain, who took home the Best Actress trophy that night has remained silent on the matter but has now shared some thoughts on what it was like to accept her award shortly after the slap. 

Jessica Chastain won an Oscar for her performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, for which she earned praise from critics. It was for that reason that she was arguably the frontrunner for the prestigious prize. Of course, Chastain couldn’t have predicted that she would land the gold statue, nor could she have known that she’d do so after such an unexpected incident like the slap. Chastain caught up with Porter (opens in new tab), where she reflected on her big moment and discussed her speech. She also revealed that like so many others, she was also trying to process what had just gone down between Will Smith and Chris Rock: 

Well… It was a weird night. I walked into a very charged energy in that room, and I was trying to figure out… how to just breathe and create a calmness.

Many can probably understand why the star would feel that way when approaching the stage to accept the Oscar and give her speech. All things considered though, she seemed to handle the situation quite well. The actress, who’d been nominated for Academy Awards in past years, spoke eloquently while addressing her peers. She also ignited applause while making a passionate appeal in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

During that moment, the audience definitely seemed a bit more at ease than it had been earlier. Chris Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature when he joked that he was looking forward to seeing Jada Pinkett Smith in a G.I. Jane sequel, which was a reference to the star’s shaved head (a result of alopecia). After Will Smith slapped Rock, the comedian declined to press charges. In the week that followed, Smith apologized for the incident before he resigned from the Academy, which would later punish him with a 10-year ban

Stars haven’t minced words when discussing the star’s actions. Wanda Sykes, one of the co-hosts of this year’s Oscars, says that she was “traumatized” by the televised moment while also saying that she felt bad for Chris Rock. Jim Carrey, who was not at the ceremony, also took issue with how things went down. Carrey said he was “sickened” by the fact that the audience still proceeded to applaud the King Richard star when he accepted his Best Actor prize that night. He also said he would’ve sued the actor for $200 million had he been slapped. Though the I Am Legend lead has received support from a Fresh Prince co-star, while Denzel Washington (who took him aside after the slap) also opted not to chastise him.

The 2022 Academy Awards ceremony is sure to be talked about for years to come, mostly due to Will Smith’s actions. Hopefully, as time goes on though, people can further separate the slap from the honorees who managed to make cinema history that night. Jessica Chastain and so many more put in great work, and it would honestly be a shame if their awards were to be further overshadowed as time goes on. 

You can check out Jessica Chastain’s work in The Eyes of Tammy Faye by streaming the biopic with an HBO Max subscription.

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