Billy Crystal Has Strong Words for Will Smith's Oscars Slap

Billy Crystal is the latest to give their thoughts on the Will Smith Oscars controversy, and he didn't hold back in the process. The legendary comedian and nine-time Oscars host spoke with Bob Costas on the journalist's new HBO Max series Back on the Record, defining the moment with Smith slapping Chris Rock as "assault."

"It was a most disturbing incident for sure. It was an assault," Crystal told Costas. "I've had experiences. I hosted the Grammys three times and I've been thrown things." This led to Crystal reflecting on how he handled his own hosting appearances, including contingencies on whether certain stars walked away with awards.

"In [Oscars] pre-production, the amazing Gill 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 elaborated.

Crystal is the latest name to weigh in on Smith's actions, with many hoping it goes away soon, others sharing that they support Smith for defending his wife, and even one that compared it to the murder of Tupac Shakur. Plenty of condemnation has been shared publicly, too, with names like Jim Carrey joining Crystal in being shocked at what happened and how it was handled in the aftermath.

According to ET Canada, Amy Schumer shared her own reaction and the daunting job she was charged with after the slap. Her comments about the night also mirror the importance of what Crystal mentioned about his own hosting appearances.

"I was backstage, and I knew I had to go out. I was kind of the only host that was going out solo after that, so it really felt like the Situation Room of comedy," Schumer said. "We were all watching the monitor, and then he won, like, everybody, we were just kind of floored. And I was just thinking about, 'What am I going to do when I go out there?'"

Schumer, along with Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, were the first Oscars hosts since the 2018 show with Jimmy Kimmel and Moonlight's memorable win. For the return of hosts, the Oscars went a different route for its memorable moments. For Crystal, he noted how a no-host show doesn't jibe with his view on hosting. It also defines the authority he feels a host should have. "I sort of set myself up to host the show, really host the show, so you can tie it in together," Crystal tells the host. "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."

Was anybody truly in charge during Oscar night in 2022? Some might say Smith owned the night, but time will tell if it has legs enough to hold memories.