Nicole Kidman's reaction to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars isn't what you think

Nicole Kidman's reaction has become the internet's new favourite meme... but it wasn't to the slap!

Nicole Kidman attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California
(Image credit: Getty)

Nicole Kidman's reaction to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars (yes, that really happened) last night has become the perfect meme. However, since the incident, it turns out her reaction wasn't quite what it seemed. 

The hilarious moment (of Nicole's reaction—not of the unacceptable altercation) went viral after an image emerged of the Australian star looking horrified and almost jumping out of her seat in shock of what she had just witnessed—or at least that's what creative meme-makers on the internet made it look like. 

In reality, it turns out Nicole's reaction happened much earlier on, way before the ceremony had even begun, though it is unclear what exactly she was reacting to. What we do know, however, is that she was wearing her husband, Keith Urban's jacket during the altercation. 

Still, the prior moment worked perfectly to visually display just how we (we being the world) felt when we realised the incident was in fact real and not a staged performance. 

"Nicole Kidman reacting to the Chris Rock and Will Smith incident at the #Oscars . A NEW MEME IS BORN," one person tweeted, while another tweeter said: "Nicole Kidman should win the Oscar for Best Reaction To Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock #Oscars"

A third person even tweeted: "Nicole Kidman's reaction was scarier than Will Smith actually Slapping Chris Rock."

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The meme quickly started making the rounds on the platform, officially becoming this year's Oscar meme, closely followed by an equally amusing facial expression on a shocked Lupita Nyong'o.

The Black Panther star was sat behind Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith when the incident took place and seemed as stunned as the rest of the world as she watched the altercation.

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It's safe to say the moment was the most insane situation that has ever taken place at the Academy Awards and one that won't be forgotten anytime soon. It all started when Chris Rock made a joke about Will's wife Jada's shaved head, saying: "Jada, love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it."

As soon as he said it, the cameras turned to Jada who looked displeased with the comedian's comments and the next thing you know, Will marched up to the stage and slapped Rock right across the face in the middle of the ceremony—much to the shock and surprise of the A-list audience and viewers tuning in from all around the globe. 

He then returned to his seat and shouted:  "Keep my wife’s name out of your f*cking mouth."

Will later apologised during a tearful acceptance speech after winning the Best Actor category for his portrayal of Serena and Venus William's dad in King Richard, a moment that marked his first ever Oscar win.

Sagal is a journalist, specialising in lifestyle, pop culture, fashion and beauty.  She has written for a number of publications including Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, Evening Standard, Bustle, You Magazine, Dazed and Wonderland to name a few.