Oscars 2022: Will Smith apologises after slapping Chris Rock for joke about wife Jada

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Watch: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during the Oscars for joke about wife Jada

Will Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor just minutes after he hit Chris Rock on the stage of the Oscars after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.

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.

Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars after the comedian made a joke about his wife. (AFP/Getty)
Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars after the comedian made a joke about his wife. (AFP/Getty)

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.

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.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - March 27, 2022.   Denzel Washington comforts Will Smith  during the show  at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022.  (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Denzel Washington comforts Will Smith during the show at the 94th Academy Awards (Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - March 27, 2022.   Bradley Cooper comforts Will Smith  during the show  at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022.  (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Bradley Cooper comforts Will Smith during the show at the 94th Academy Awards (Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - March 27, 2022.   Denzel Washington, and Tyler Perry comfort Will Smith  during the show  at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022.  (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Denzel Washington, and Tyler Perry comfort Will Smith during the show at the 94th Academy Awards. (Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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.

Read more: Chris Rock faces backlash after Oscars hosting gig

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.

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.

Will Smith appears to hit Chris Rock on Oscars stage (PA)
Will Smith appears to hit Chris Rock on Oscars stage (PA)

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.

Will Smith delivered a tearful speech as he accepted the Oscar for Best Actor. (AFP/Getty)
Will Smith delivered a tearful speech as he accepted the Oscar for Best Actor. (AFP/Getty)

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."

Read more: Beyoncé opens Oscars with King Richard song performance

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."

Will Smith reacted to a joke made by Chris Rock about Jada Pinkett Smith. (AFP/Getty)
Will Smith reacted to a joke made by Chris Rock about Jada Pinkett Smith. (AFP/Getty)

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.

Watch: British stars shine on Oscars red carpet

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