Why Nicole Kidman's reaction to Will Smith altercation isn't as it seems

Nicole Kidman's reaction to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock is the most meme-worthy image of the Oscars 2022—but it's not what it looks like

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

Nicole Kidman's reaction to Will Smith taking to the Oscars 2022 stage and slapping Chris Rock has become the ultimate viral meme of the evening. However, in the wake of the evening's events, it transpires that the reaction in question wasn't what it seemed.

The morning after the night before, with the whole world wondering what happened at the Oscars last night, the biggest headline grabber was that unforgettable physical altercation.

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Although Will Smith tearfully apologized in his Oscars acceptance speech, the shocking moment is sure to go down in history as one of the Oscars most controversial moments. All you need to do is look at the gobsmacked audience, including actor Nicole, whose expression captured the OMG moment only too well.

However, the image of the Aussie actor wasn't actually taken after the altercation, but far earlier in the evening, before the show had even began. Around the time of the incident, Nicole was wearing her husband Keith Urban's jacket.


The unforgettable performance of Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in director Aaron Sorkin's 2021 drama, Being the Ricardos gained the star a nomination for best actress. Despite not winning the gong, this image of the star (albeit inaccurate) has ensured that she's won the award for the most meme-able moment.

Fans reacted to the image with one Twitter user saying, "Nicole Kidman reacting to Will Smith punching Chris Rock is more Lucy than Being the Ricardos." Another commented, "Nicole Kidman was all of us."

US actor J.K. Simmons (R), US-Australian actress Nicole Kidman (C) and Australian-US musician Keith Urban (L) applaud the Best Picture award for "CODA" during the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 27, 2022.

(Image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time she's been the queen of memes on Oscars night, as one fan pointed out. "It isn't the #Oscars until we have a truly insane Nicole Kidman reaction image," they said.

In case you've forgotten, an image of her slightly unusual style of clapping went viral back in the 2017 Oscars.

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In light of the highly charged altercation, which brought a deeply uncomfortable energy to the evening's proceedings, it's understandable that fans are focussing more on funny memes than the incident itself.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.