AP — Will Smith marched on stage and appeared to smack presenter Chris Rock during Sunday night’s Oscars after Rock made a joke about the appearance of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
The crowd at the Dolby Theatre hushed as Smith twice shouted at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”
Rock took aim at Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, saying, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, all right?”
Pinkett Smith revealed in 2018 that she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has often discussed the challenge of hair loss on Instagram and other social media platforms.
Smith, who later won his first Oscar for best actor for his role in “King Richard,” walked onto the stage and took a swing at Rock with an open palm, generating a loud smack. Smith walked back to his seat and shouted for Rock to leave Pinkett Smith alone. Rock replied that he was just making a “GI Jane” joke — and Smith yelled back at him a second time.
“That was the greatest night in the history of television,” Rock said, then resumed his role as presenter.
A few minutes later, rapper Sean Combs — on stage to introduce a tribute to “The Godfather” — tried to play peacemaker and suggested Smith and Rock settle their differences at an Oscars afterparty.
“Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family at the Gold party,” Combs said.
Pinkett Smith was also the subject of jokes from Rock when he hosted the Oscars in 2016. She did not attend the Oscars that year, saying at the time her decision stemmed from a lack of diversity among award nominees and how Black artists were not properly represented.