BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Will Smith gleefully danced with wife Jada Pinkett Smith and their family at the Vanity Fair Oscar party, waving his best actor trophy in the air like he just didn’t care as he rapped along to a mash-up of his own songs, from “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” to “Summertime.”
The only sign of the ugliness that went down four hours before — when Smith strode on to the Dolby Theatre stage and slapped Chris Rock over a joke about his wife’s hair, then gave a tearful acceptance speech minutes later — was the outsized attention given to the actor at a party where major stars and newly minted Oscar winners were everywhere.
He was mobbed by people filming the scene and squeezing next to him for selfies.
“Congratulations Will Smith, I love you!” shouted DJ D-Nice as he spun the medley.
“Daily Show” host Trevor Noah gave Smith a long hug, whispering in his ear as Smith laughed.
The mob followed as Smith and his entourage made their way across the party. Smith clanked Oscar statuettes with other winners and stopped to accept congratulations and pose for photos with Timothée Chalamet.
Smith held his Oscar triumphantly in the air as he climbed into an SUV to leave after the brief party visit.
His son Jaden Smith, staying behind to party with friends, shouted “I love you! You did it!”
The shocking slap and its aftermath hung in the air and dominated conversations at the post-Oscar parties just as it did on social media and in much of the country.
At the Governors Ball, which takes place upstairs from the Dolby Theatre immediately after the show, both joy and tension were in the room. Many were excited to eat, drink and get their Oscars engraved. Many more were still processing what had happened on stage, though few were ready to express their feelings about it publicly. Rock did not appear at either party.
Kodi Smit-McPhee, a supporting actor nominee for “The Power of the Dog,” said he was happy for best director winner Jane Campion and excited to celebrate, but “still calculating what happened” with Smith and Rock.
“I’m going to have to go home and do my research,” Smit-McPhee said.
Tracee Ellis-Ross stopped to have a conversation with Questlove, whose documentary “Summer of Soul” won in the aftermath of the incident. She told him that he’d done beautifully and that she was “really sorry that happened.”
At the Vanity Fair party before Smith’s arrival, Andrew Garfield, who lost best actor to Smith, was introduced to Serena Williams, an executive producer on “King Richard,” the biopic about her and sister Venus that won Smith his Oscar for playing their father.
“Nice to meet you,” Garfield said. “I’m so sorry about tonight.”
That out of the way, they hopped topics to talk about tennis.
Other corners of the parties were like any other Oscar night.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation resumed its viewing party on the 30th anniversary of its first. Brandi Carlile performed at the event in West Hollywood hosted by Lady Gaga, Billy Porter and Eric McCormack.
At the Governor’s Ball, Anthony Hopkins danced as actor Riz Ahmed chatted with “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve. John Travolta posed with people taking selfies and Emilia Jones looked on as her “CODA” co-star Troy Kotsur got his statuette engraved while “Dancing Queen” played in the background.
Before Smith arrived at the Vanity Fair Party, Bill Murray, wearing a beret, bopped up and down on a mostly empty dance floor to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Sofia Coppola guided father Francis Ford Coppola by the arm through the crowds.
“Game of Thrones” actor Sophie Turner and her husband, musician Joe Jonas, hung out near the bar. Actor Isla Fisher, leaving the party with her husband Sacha Baron Cohen, shouted to the arriving Wanda Sykes that she “killed it” as one of three Oscar hosts.
Billie Eilish and Kotsur smiled as they held their first Oscars and chilled with friends as the party began to thin out.
Other winners with far less famous faces reveled in the instant invitation the trophy gets you to the Vanity Fair party, the nearly annual gala — back this year after a pandemic year off — hosted by the magazine’s editor Radhika Jones at an indoor-outdoor space between the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and Beverly Hills City Hall.
As always, guests gorged on In-N-Out burgers, the traditional fare at a party that is all about cutting loose and letting go of tension.
Bahr reported from Los Angeles.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism