While Will Smith slapping presenter Chris Rock will go down as one of the most shocking moments in Oscars history, it will also surely be included in any future montage of jaw-dropping unscripted awards show moments. From streakers to improvised kisses to, yes, Kanye West, below we run down some of the most shocking and memorable unscripted awards show moments in history.
Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift
In one of the most shocking unplanned moments in award show history, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Music Awards. Swift won for “You Belong With Me,” and after she excitedly accepted her Moonman and went to the mic to say thanks, suddenly West was onstage next to her, grabbing the mic and saying “I’ma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best music videos of all time.” Swift stood there, not quite sure what to do, and after she was ushered off stage, with many tears behind the scenes, Beyoncé, who won a different award, invited Swift back up to finish her speech and ‘have her moment.’
Adele Restarts Song at Grammys
At the 2017 Grammy Awards, British singer Adele was tasked with performing a tribute for the late George Michael. After a shaky start, Adele cursed into the mic and asked if she and the band could start over. She apologized for swearing and said “I can’t mess this up for him.” The second time around went smoothly for her.
Will Smith Slaps Chris Rock
In an unexpected turn of events that is still very much being hotly debated, Will Smith went up onstage to slap Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock’s joke called for Jada to star in the next G.I. Jane film, poking fun at her bald head. Jada Pinkett Smith is bald because she has alopecia, and after seeing that she was unamused, Will Smith walked up to Rock, slapped him, sat back down and repeated twice to Rock “Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth.”
Nicki Minaj Calls Out Miley Cyrus at the VMAs
Nicki Minaj took her feud with Miley Cyrus public onstage at the 2015 Video Music Awards, where she said, “And now back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press — Miley, what’s good?” Minaj had previously criticized the VMAs for only celebrating “women with slim bodies” and for inconsistently acknowledging Black women. Cyrus subsequently clapped back at Minaj’s complaints, saying they were “just about herself.” Hence the onstage shoutout.
The Oscars Streaker in 1974
During the 1974 Oscars, a streaker flashing a peace sign ran behind presenter David Niven.
The “La La Land”/”Moonlight” Mixup
Perhaps now the second-most infamous moment in Oscars history, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the Oscars stage in 2017 to announce that “La La Land” had won Best Picture. The cast and producers took the stage and began their acceptance speeches, only to then realize Beatty and Dunaway had been handed the wrong envelope – “Moonlight” had actually won Best Picture. Chaos ensued.
Leonardo DiCaprio Reacts to Lady Gaga at Golden Globes
On Lady Gaga’s walk to accept her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a miniseries, which she won for her role in “American Horror Story” at the 73rd Golden Globes, she bumped Leonardo Dicaprio’s shoulder and arm, which were sticking out into her path. DiCaprio’s reaction has been dissected every which way since, and he claimed he just didn’t know what was coming his way. A meme was born.
Brie Larson Refuses to Clap for Casey Affleck’s Oscar Win
When Brie Larson presented Casey Affleck for his Best Actor Oscar in 2017 her response was, well, muted. In fact she refused to clap for the actor, and as they walked away together she didn’t embrace or congratulate him. Instead, they both sort of skulked off stage. And the reason was complicated. Larson, an outspoken advocate for survivors of sexual assault, was responding to a pair of sexual harassment allegations that were leveled against Affleck during the filming of the bizarre faux documentary “I’m Still Here.” (Both of the suits were settled back in 2010.) Talk of the allegations resurfaced during Affleck’s Oscar campaign for his admittedly amazing performance in Kenneth Lonergan beautiful tragedy “Manchester by the Sea,” so it was easy to connect Larson’s response to the recent discussion (although Larson never explicitly linked the two).
Jennifer Lawrence Falls on Oscars Stage
When Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2013, she tripped walking up the steps to the podium. “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing,” Lawrence said to the crowd giving her a standing ovation. At the moment she went down, Hugh Jackman rushed to her aid and presenter Jean Dujardin offered a helping hand.
Natalie Portman Calls Out “All-Male Best Director Nominees” at Golden Globes
When presenting the Best Director Golden Globe alongside Ron Howard at the 2018 Golden Globes, Portman introduced the category by saying, “And here are the all-male nominees.” Howard laughed uncomfortably.
Adrien Brody Kisses Halle Berry When Winning Best Actor
In a moment that surely would have unleashed a flurry of hot takes in the year 2022, when Adrien Brody won the Best Actor Oscar at the 2003 Oscars for his role in “The Pianist,” he grabbed presenter Halle Berry and gave her a passionate kiss.
Steve Harvey Crowns the Wrong Miss Universe Contestant
During the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, host Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner. When the contestant from Colombia had already been crowned, Harvey had to issue a correction that she was not, in fact, the winner and he had read the card wrong.
Marlon Brando Refuses His Oscar
It was no surprise that Marlon Brando would win the Best Actor Oscar for “The Godfather,” a role that reignited his somewhat stalled career and served to largely define the rest of it. However, what was a surprise was when Brando refused to accept the award. Instead, he had Native American actress and advocate Sacheen Littlefeather attend the ceremony for him. When Brando won, it was Littlefeather who went on stage, waving away Roger Moore’s attempt to hand her the statue. She then explained that Brando shared “a long speech that I cannot share with you because of time,” but that he “very regretfully cannot accept this very generous reward.” The reason? “The treatment of American Indians today in the film industry,” she said, to both claps and audible boos. And while many saw it as an egotistical power move (hence the boos), it now seems somewhat altruistic and progressive, especially for the time.
John Travolta Says “Adele Dazeem”
This one is still truly befuddling. At the 2014 Oscars, John Travolta was set to announce the live performance of “Let It Go” from the Oscar-winning “Frozen” (it had already picked up the statue for Best Animated Feature and would later win for the song). Simple enough right? Travolta landed the pre-written intro well enough, acknowledging the movie’s win earlier in the evening and making a bad “Wicked” pun. But when it came to actually announcing the performer’s name, Idina Menzel, he screwed up royally, calling her Adele Dazeem. It was a bizarre fumble, one that he and Menzel would lampoon at the following year’s ceremony. Not that making light of it caused it to be any less weird.
Winona Ryder Reacting to David Harbour’s SAG speech
When “Stranger Things” won Best Ensemble in a Drama Series at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards, the whole cast stormed the stage to accept the award. David Harbour made a great speech, but Winona Ryder’s facial reactions to his words stole the spotlight. Her range as an actress might have been rivaled in that one segment, because she made all kinds of facial expressions ranging from surprise, bewilderment and more.