Watch: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during the Oscars for joke about wife Jada
Rock, who was on stage to present the award for Best Documentary Feature, made a comment about Jada Pinkett Smith possibly starring in a sequel to G.I. Jane due to her bald head.
Pinkett Smith has spoken openly in recent years about losing her hair due to alopecia and seemed to roll her eyes in reaction to the gag.
Read more: LAPD not investigating altercation at Oscars
Smith then approached Rock on stage and hit him in the face, shocking the comedian before returning to his seat.
Viewers in the UK and other countries then heard Smith yell at Rock several times to "keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth", while the US broadcaster cut the audio.
Read more: Rock's joke about Jada in 2016 resurfaces
The tearful comedian then moved on to present the award for Best Documentary Feature to the Questlove-directed concert film Summer of Soul.
VIA JAPANESE TELEVISION: The uncensored exchange between Will Smith and Chris Rock pic.twitter.com/j0Z184ZyXa
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 28, 2022
In pictures from the ceremony, it appears Denzel Washington consoled Smith as he escorted him away from the stage after the incident. The Best Actor winner was also seen conversing with Tyler Perry and Bradley Cooper after the shocking moment.
UK viewers then began to experience technical difficulties via the Sky Cinema broadcast, with the show then returning as Sean "P Diddy" Combs presented a tribute to The Godfather.
Combs briefly addressed the incident, saying: "Will and Chris, we're gonna solve that like family at [Jay-Z and Beyoncé's] Gold Party."
Social media users were divided as to whether the incident was a staged gag or a genuine moment of tension between the two men.
pretty sure Will Smith just hit Chris Rock for real. in front of 10 million people.
— Scott Weinberg (@scottEmovienerd) March 28, 2022
Variety has reported that Smith's publicist Meredith O. Sullivan approached him for a discussion during the commercial break after the incident.
Just minutes later, Smith was awarded Best Actor for his performance as Richard Williams — father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams — in biopic King Richard.
The star delivered his acceptance speech through floods of tears as he apologised for the incident, ending with the words "I hope the Academy invites me back".
Read more: Will Smith in trailer for King Richard
"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world," said Smith.
He added: "I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you've got to be able to take abuse. You've got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you've got to be able to have people disrespecting you and you've got to smile and pretend that's okay.
Watch: Will Smith apologises in tearful Oscars speech
"Denzel [Washington] said to me that at your highest moment, be careful, that's when the devil comes for you."
Smith then declared his apology to the Academy and to all of his fellow nominees for the altercation between himself and Rock.
He added: "Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."
There is some history between Smith and Rock, with the comedian making jokes about Will and Jada during his 2016 hosting performance.
On that occasion, Pinkett Smith said after the ceremony that comments like those made by Rock "come with the territory".
The Academy released a statement after the ceremony saying: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
The Oscars were presented live from Los Angeles at the Dolby Theater, with a full audience for the first time since COVID-19 hit.
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