Billy Crystal Calls Will Smith Oscars Slap a 'Most Disturbing Incident'

Billy Crystal, who has hosted the Oscars nine times, shared his perspective on the moment Will Smith struck Chris Rock while he was presenting an award

Billy Crystal is giving his take on Will Smith's controversial Oscars outburst.

Crystal — who has hosted the Academy Awards nine times — shared his opinion on the shocking moment when Smith, 53, walked onstage and slapped presenter Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

While appearing on Bob Costas' HBO Max series Back on the Record, Crystal gave his thoughts on the "most disturbing incident," telling Costas, "It was an assault. I've had experiences. I hosted the Grammys three times and I've been thrown things," per Deadline.

Billy Crystal
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Crystal, 74, also reflected on his own experience hosting the Oscars. The actor first hosted in 1990 and went on to host subsequent shows in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004 and, most recently, 2012.

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He told Costas, "In [Oscars] pre-production, the amazing Gil Cates, we would go through — he was the producer for six of the nine that I did — we would go through the rundown and I'd say, 'Maybe I should be there because something might happen there. If that person wins, I should follow that.' "

Crystal, who has said he wouldn't host the Oscars again if asked, continued, "I sort of set myself up to host the show, really host the show, so you can tie it together. So whenever I see shows that it's a no-host show, yeah it went faster, but there's nobody there to capitalize on anything and give the audience the feeling of there's somebody in charge."

After going three years without a host, this year's Oscars ceremony was hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.

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Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars on March 27, 2022. Robyn Beck/getty

Crystal's comments come two weeks after the 94th annual Academy Awards. While Rock was presenting the Best Documentary category, Will struck him in the face after he joked about Jada's shaved head. After returning to his seat, Will yelled at Rock, telling him, "Keep my wife's name out your f-----g mouth!"

Will remained at the ceremony following the incident and won Best Actor for his role in King Richard shortly after slapping Rock. He issued an apology to Rock the following day on Instagram.

"I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong," Will wrote, in part. "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."

After the Academy launched an inquiry into Will's actions at the award show, the actor resigned from the Academy on Friday.

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