Rock, who was introducing the award for Best Documentary, said, “Jada, I love ya. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see ya.”
Smith initially appeared to laugh from his seat while Pinket Smith, who suffers from alopecia, appeared unimpressed with the joke.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that attacks hair follicles, resulting in bald spots and hair loss. The actress has been open about her battle with the disorder and dealing with hair loss for years. Last summer, Pinkett Smith, 50, said she was inspired by her and Smith’s daughter Willow Smith to completely shave her head.
Rock, 57, was still in the middle of presenting when Smith, 53, took to the stage and smacked Rock across the face.
Rock seemed taken aback as Smith made his way back to his seat. “Oh wow,” he said. “Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me.”
“Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth!” Smith yelled after returning to his seat.
“Wow, dude, it was a ‘G.I. Jane’ joke,” Rock said.
“Keep my wife’s name out your f—ing mouth!” Smith replied again.
“I’m going to, OK?” Rock replied, before once again returning his focus on presenting. “That was the … greatest night in the history of television.”
Rock had also taken aim at Pinkett Smith while hosting the 2016 Academy Awards. During his monologue, he referenced that Pinkett Smith was boycotting the awards ceremony in light of the “Oscars So White” call-to-action for more diversity amongst the Academy and those honored. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,” Rock said.
Smith on Sunday went on to win the award for Best Actor for his performance as Venus and Serena Williams’ father Richard Williams in “King Richard.” During his acceptance speech for the award, he tearfully acknowledged what went on earlier and apologized, but did not mention Rock in his speech.
“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,” Smith said. “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people. And to be a river to my people. And I know to do what we do, you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and you’ve got 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 like that’s OK.”
Denzel Washington then called out to Smith. Washington had appeared to comfort Smith during a commercial break after Smith smacked Rock. “Denzel said to me a few minutes ago, ‘at your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you,’” Smith said. “I want to be a vessel for love.”
Smith thanked Venus and Serena Williams, the Williams family and the film’s cast and crew. He then apologized, but did not mention Rock. “I want to apologize to the Academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said.
Smith then spoke again about Richard Williams. “Just like they said, I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things,” he said.
He thanked his mother, whom he said was watching in Philadelphia with her “knitting crew,” and he thanked his wife. “I’m taking up too much time. Thank you for this honor. And thank you for this moment. Thank you,” he concluded. “I hope the Academy invites me back.”
The Academy later condemned Smith’s actions in a statement, 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.”
Rock declined to file a police report after being smacked, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
“LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the LAPD said in a statement obtained by Variety. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report.
“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” the statement said.
Sean “Diddy” Combs reportedly later confirmed that Rock and Smith made amends after the awards ceremony. “That’s not a problem. That’s over. I can confirm that,” Diddy, 52, told Page Six at the Vanity Fair Oscars after party Sunday. “It’s all love. They’re brothers.”
Smith also attended the Vanity Fair party. There, he danced with Pinkett Smith and their children, Jaden, 23, and Willow, 21, and rapped along to his songs “Summertime,” “Miami” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” Page Six reported.