Rock, presenting the best documentary prize with a short comedy routine, had cracked a joke comparing Jada Pinkett Smith’s tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore’s appearance in the film “G.I. Jane” and suggesting she appear in a sequel.
In a moment that triggered awkward silence and confusion in the Dolby Theatre, Smith strode up to Rock and slapped him, before returning to his seat alongside Jada and shouting profanities.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f*****g mouth,” yelled Smith, forcing the producers to bleep out several seconds of audio from the televised broadcast in the United States.
Jada Pinkett Smith, who is also an actress, suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disorder which can cause hair loss and balding, and publicly revealed her diagnosis in 2018.
Minutes later, when accepting the Oscar for best actor for his role in “King Richard”, Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and his fellow nominees but not to Rock.
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg, in attendance, a tearful Smith needed to be “pulled aside and comforted” by Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry during a commercial break.
“Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family. Right now we’re moving on with love,” said Sean “Diddy” Combs, presenting the next section.