Will Smith shocks Oscar audience by slapping Chris Rock on stage

Courtesy of Twitter Screenshot of Will Smith smacking Chris Rock at the Academy Awards

Forget the dazzling gowns, and wins and losses, years from now, the main thing people will likely remember about this year’s Academy Awards ceremony will be the shocking moment when Will Smith went up on stage and smacked comedian Chris Rock.

Rock, who was there to present an Oscar for Best Documentary, told a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who was in the audience sporting a shaved head. In recent days Pinkett Smith has been very public about her struggles with alopecia, which has resulted in hair loss.

Rock joked, “Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2—can’t wait to see it!” comparing Pinkett Smith’s shaved head to that of the character G.I. Jane, who also had a shaved head. Smith appeared to laugh at the joke at first, but then walked onstage while Rock was presenting and slapped him.

Warning: This video contains violence and strong language that might be offensive to some viewers.

“Wow, Will Smith just smacked the sh*t out of me!” an incredulous Rock said to awkward laughter from the audience as Smith strode to his seat. “That was a greatest night in the history of television,” Rock added, attempting to make light of the stunning moment.

Though Smith was censored during the U.S. broadcast, after the slap, he could be heard in the international broadcasts cussing at Rock from his seat, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f$#king mouth!”

Rock fumbled over his words but kept his composure as he continued to present the Best Documentary Oscar to Questlove for “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).”

Smith went on to win Best Actor for “King Richard” and he apologized for the outburst during his speech—though not directly to Rock. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said about the man he played on the big screen. He then alluded to knowing that he needed to be bigger and rise above people saying “crazy” things about him or his family.

“I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” Smith said in an apparent reference to the altercation with Rock.

The reaction to the slap was mixed on social media, with fans and celebrities alike taking sides, making jokes and some even questioning whether the moment was real.

Twitter user @grounnnder tweeted, “Chris Rock should strike a deal right now with The Academy to host next year’s #Oscars…and walk out there with a baseball bat…”

See more social media commentary below.