Why Will Smith Abruptly Dropped Out Of His First Award Show Post-Slap

Will Smith dropped out of a group performance at last night's Grammy Awards due to filming on Bad Boys 4.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

will smith

Will Smith had to cancel an appearance at last night’s Grammy Awards because he’s busy shooting Bad Boys 4. Roots drummer Questlove announced the bad news during a red-carpet interview with Variety‘s Marc Malkin. “I’ll give the spoiler alert away. Will Smith was a part of the festivities tonight, but they started shooting ‘Bad Boys 4’ this week,” Questlove told Malkin.

Will Smith was supposed to appear on last night’s Grammys during a 14-minute tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The tribute went on without Smith and was a highlight of the show. The tribute featured performances from old-school acts like LL Cool J and Queen Latifah alongside current rappers like Lil Baby.

Younger readers and hip-hop fans may only be familiar with Will Smith as an actor, but the Fresh Prince star was a rap pioneer. Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff helped bring hip-hop to the masses when the genre was still in its infancy. Crossover hits like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Summertime” made Smith a star.

If the Independence Day actor had made it to the Grammys, it would have been his first appearance at an awards show since last year’s infamous Oscars slap. “The slap,” as most people refer to it, occurred when last year’s Oscar host Chris Rock made a joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith. Will Smith took offense at what he saw as an attempt to poke fun at his wife’s alopecia and ran onstage to confront Rock.

What happened next was the first time in awards show history that an audience member struck a host on live TV. Since the incident, Smith has kept a low profile, something an appearance at the 65th Grammys would have changed.

Questlove was very understanding about the last-minute cancellation. The four-time Grammy winner told Variety that several of the performers for the tribute “have other jobs.” Questlove admitted that even The Roots had to get someone to cover their shift at the Tonight Show in order to take part in the show.

Anyone following Smith’s career knows what a big deal Bad Boys 4 is for the actor. Smith hasn’t had a big hit since King Richard in 2021, the movie for which he won his first Oscar. By the time Bad Boys 4 comes out, it will likely be at least three years since that film, which is a long time in Hollywood. Will Smith is no doubt itching to prove that his name can still put butts in seats at the movie theater.

will smith

It’s also Smith’s first big movie post-slap. There is no doubt that Smith is working extra hard to get back into fans’ good graces after his infamous moment of unchecked aggression at the 2022 Oscars. It’s completely understandable why Will Smith would blow off an ensemble performance to focus on a comeback vehicle where he’s the lead.

Questlove himself admitted that getting Smith for the tribute was “a shot in the dark,” since Smith is “always shooting movies.” One of the few upsides to Smith not being able to attend the awards show was the safety of Grammy’s host Trevor Noah. There is no telling what kind of helmet or other face protection apparatus Noah might have had to wear if Will had been in the audience. Thankfully we’ll never know.