This Is Actually Not a Picture of Nicole Kidman Reacting to the Slap

We come to this place for magic. Photo: Myung Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Today, as people post their way through their Oscars comedowns, Twitter has basically become a Tommy Wiseau movie set: riddled with bad takes. Will Smith got onstage and slapped Chris Rock in response to a joke Rock made about Jada Pinkett Smith, and now every person online thinks they’re an expert on alopecia, stand-up comedy, interpersonal violence, institutional violence, toxic masculinity, censorship, race, and meme-making. That last one is less of a problem than all the others, especially when it leads to some pretty creative video work. One such meme that’s been floating around the discourse stew is a picture of Nicole Kidman sitting in the audience, eyes agog and arms out, displaying more emotion on her face than we knew was still medically possible. It’s been shared thousands of times with captions saying that it’s a shot of her reaction to the now capital-S Slap.

But here’s the thing: That’s not a picture of Nicole Kidman reacting to the Slap. The photo was taken and posted to Getty Images hours earlier, during the un-televised first hour of the ceremony reserved for craft awards. The photo was already making the rounds by at least 7:34 ET, 26 minutes before the broadcast even began.

But if that wasn’t her reaction to an A-lister throwing hands at the most performatively decorous event of the year, then what caused the face-crack? It would have to be something truly major to exhibit such a look of unbridled shock and astonishment … something like …

… Jessica Chastain walking into a room.

Yes. We reached out to the photo’s photographer, Myung Chun of the Los Angeles Times, and asked if he remembered what it was that Kidman was reacting to, and he wrote back, “Yes, the picture of Nicole Kidman was taken during the non-televised portion. It appeared that she was excited to see Jessica Chastain across the room. Kidman then reached out her arms and waved to her with both hands.” We agree that this is the exact right level of excitement with which to greet Jessica Chastain when she enters a space. “Shortly thereafter, Chastain walked over to greet Kidman and her husband Keith Urban,” Chun added.

What a shame that ABC didn’t broadcast the first hour of the ceremony because clearly we missed out on the real biggest moment of the night: Nicole Kidman saying, “Oh, hey.”

This Is Not a Picture of Nicole Kidman Reacting to the Slap