Chris Rock breaks silence as academy reveals Will Smith 'was asked to leave Oscars but refused'

280322 Will Smith slaps Chris Rock, AP
Chris Rock said he is 'still kind of processing what happened.' Credit: AP

Comedian Chris Rock has broken his silence on the Will Smith Oscars slap.

Taking to the stage for the first time since the incident which rocked Hollywood, Rock told the audience he was “still kind of processing what happened" - though he never mentioned Smith nor his wife by name.

“Other than the weird thing, life is pretty good,” Rock said at one point midway through his first of two sets.

Wearing all white, he seemed to be almost embarrassed by the multiple ovations he received.

As the applause carried on for minutes - with fans yelling “I love you, Chris” - the comedian appeared to be getting emotional, a guest seated near the stage reported.

“How was your weekend?” Rock joked before getting into his set.

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Ticket prices skyrocketed after Smith took to the awards stage and slapped Rock on live TV, but the comedian made clear he wasn’t going to talk at length about it Wednesday.

“If you came to hear that, I’m not... I had like a whole show I wrote before this weekend,” Rock said.

He spent much of the night skewering celebrities and politicians. Among them were the Duchess of Sussex, the Kardashians, as well as President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and former President Donald Trump.

It comes as the academy revealed they had asked Smith to leave the ceremony after the incident, but he refused.

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On Sunday, Smith marched onstage and struck the comedian for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith's, buzzed haircut. She has alopecia and has spoken openly about it.

“Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it," Rock said while presenting an award, comparing Pinkett Smith to Demi Moore’s “G.I. Jane” character, who had a buzz cut in the 1997 film.

Less than an hour later, Smith won best actor - his first Oscar. During his five-minute acceptance speech, Smith talked about defending his family and apologised to the academy.

A day later, Smith issued an apology to Rock, to the academy and to viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences condemned Smith striking Rock.

Its board of governors met on Wednesday to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violations of the group’s standards of conduct. It's unclear if the actor's gong could be revoked due to his actions.

The Los Angeles Police Department said Sunday it was aware of what happened but was not pursuing an investigation because the person involved declined to file a police report.

Pinkett Smith responded on Tuesday with a graphic on Instagram that read: “This is a season of healing and I’m here for it.” She offered no further comment.