The shocking moment was captured on live TV as Chris ribbed the audience while preparing to present the Oscar for best documentary.
Chris made a joke about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, who suffers from hair-loss disease alopecia, with the Everybody Hates Chris star referring to her as ‘G.I Jane’.
The King Richard actor, who first appeared to laugh at the joke, then walked on stage and slapped the comedian before telling him: ‘Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king mouth’.
It was real.
Just seen the uncensored footage.
Will Smith hit Chris Rock for cracking a GI Jane joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith (who suffers from alopecia) – then twice screamed 'keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth' at him
Ugliest moment in Oscars history. .
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 28, 2022
A visibly emotional Will would go on to be named the winner of the coveted best actor award minutes later.
Reaction to the slap was instant and furious, with former Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan referring to it as the ‘Ugliest moment in Oscars history’.
He added that it was ‘insane’ and ‘astonishing’ and predicted: ‘What if Will Smith now wins Best Actor, minutes after assaulting someone on the same stage?’
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill said stand-up comics like Chris ‘are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault… not so much.’
He echoed Piers’ sentiments with the use of the hashtag: ‘#UgliestOscarMoment_Ever’
ITV weather presenter Alex Beresford was shocked as he asked: ‘Did this actually happen? Was it real? Did the slap connect? I’ve so many questions,’ while musician Lil Nas X asked simply: ‘omg was that real.
Rosie O’Donnell said the moment was ‘so upsetting on every level’ and praised Chris for not reacting to what she called ‘a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman’.
And esteemed filmmaker Rob Reiner said the I Am Legend actor ‘owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did.’
He added: ‘He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bullsh**.’
Actress Mia Farrow defended Chris, saying it was ‘just a joke’.
‘Jokes are what Chris Rock does,’ she said, adding he has always ‘been edgy’ and this was ‘mild for him’. She added: ‘And i love GI Jane.’
The actress went on to agree with many who called it the ‘Oscars ugliest moment.’
— Mark Hamill (@MarkHamill) March 28, 2022
Did this actually happen? Was it real? Did the slap connect? I’ve so many questions. pic.twitter.com/I4nEKCguU0
— Alex Beresford (@alexberesfordTV) March 28, 2022
American sports presenter Stephen A Smith slammed Will in a video rant, furiously declaring he had ‘stained’ the Oscars and was ‘lucky he didn’t get his a** kicked’.
Conan O’Brien meanwhile, sarcastically asked: ‘Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?’
To which Jimmy Kimmel replied: ‘Anytime you want to take it for a spin, it’s yours’.
Also attempting to keep the mood light was actor Amy Schumer, who took over presenting the ceremony following Will’s slap and his subsequent best actor win.
so upsetting – on every level – bravo to Chris Rock – for not eviscerating will smith – which he could do any day of the week – he walked away – bravo from a sad display of toxic masculinity from a narcissistic madman #Oscars2022 #chrisROCK
— ROSIE (@Rosie) March 28, 2022
Appearing on stage with the microphone, the comedian joked that she was ‘getting out of that Sider-Man costume, did I miss anything?’
As the audience rippled with laughter, she added: ‘There’s like, a different vibe in here.’
Hoping the quip did enough to diffuse the tension somewhat, she shrugged: ‘Oh, well. Probably not.’
Will Smith owes Chris Rock a huge apology. There is no excuse for what he did. He’s lucky Chris is not filing assault charges. The excuses he made tonight were bullshit.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) March 28, 2022
It was just a joke. Jokes are what Chris Rock does. Always has been edgy. This was a mild joke for him. And i love GI Jane
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 28, 2022
Will appeared to defend his actions in his acceptance speech for best actor, apologising to the Academy and his fellow nominees before saying: ‘Love will make you do crazy things.’
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.’
Openly weeping throughout the speech, the actor continued: ‘I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to my fellow nominees.
Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) March 28, 2022
anytime you want to take it for a spin, it's yours
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) March 28, 2022
‘This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award. It’s about being able to shine a light on all the people…’
‘Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams,’ he laughed. ‘But love will make you do crazy things.’