Will Smith stormed onstage and slapped presenter Chris Rock for a joke the comic made about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
The drama began while Rock was presenting best documentary during the 2022 ceremony.
Rock made a crack about Pinkett Smith getting ready to film a sequel to G.I. Jane — an apparent reference to the actress having a shaved head.
“Jada, I love ya,” Rock said. “G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it. All right?”
Smith laughed, though looking a bit uncomfortable. Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes and glared at Rock.
Hearing disapproval from the crowd, Rock implored, “That was a nice one!”
That’s when Smith stood up, stormed onstage and smacked a stunned Rock in the face.
What happened next was censored in the United States but aired elsewhere.
As Smith went back to his seat, Rock marvelled, “Wow, wow … Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.”
“Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth!” Smith roared, again seated in the audience.
“Wow dude, it was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock said, which prompted Smith to repeat his demand.
Looking visibly shaken, Rock paused for a moment and then told the crowd: “That was a — Greatest night in the history of television” and then continued along with his presenter moment.
During the next commercial break, Smith was pulled aside and comforted by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, who motioned for him to brush it off. Smith appeared to wipe tears from his eyes as he sat back down with Pinkett Smith.
The next presenter, Sean Combs, addressed the stunning moment by saying, “I did not know that this year was gonna be the most exciting Oscars ever. OK, Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family at the Gold Party. But right now we’re moving on with love — everybody, make some noise!”
And that might have been the end of it. But in another dramatic twist, Smith then won the award for best actor for King Richard — his first Oscars win — and retook the stage.