Oscars 2022: Will Smith slaps, yells at Chris Rock after Jada Pinkett-Smith gag

Will Smith appeared to slap Chris Rock and yelled at him to "keep my wife's name out of your f**king mouth" after the comedian made a joke about his spouse Jada Pinkett-Smith at the 2022 Oscars.

In a scarcely believable moment, Smith came up on stage after Rock's gag and seemed to jokingly strike him in the face after a sleight believed to be about Pinkett-Smith's alopecia.

But after returning to his seat, Smith appeared genuinely angry and twice told Rock to "keep my wife's name out of your f**king mouth" as the comic watched on dumbfounded.

Will Smith strikes Chris Rock in the face.
Will Smith strikes Chris Rock in the face. Photo credit: Reuters

Rock was on stage to present the category for best documentary. He had already made a few quips about those in the audience before turning his attention to Pinkett-Smith and referring to her as 'G.I. Jane'.

After the altercation with Smith, Rock joked that it was "the greatest night in the history of television", but seemed shaken and hurriedly brought his award introduction to a close.

Sean 'Diddy' Coombs was the next up to present an Oscar, and addressed the clash by calling on Smith and Rock to "solve that like family".

"Right now we’re moving on with love. Everybody make some noise," he said, as Smith and Pinkett-Smith could be seen smiling on.

Variety reports Smith's publicist came to his table during the ad break to speak to him privately, as did his fellow actors Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry.

Smith later took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in King Richard, and in the first sentence of his speech referenced his outburst at Rock by saying "Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family".

"I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you," he went on to say through tears.

"In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that's okay."

Later in the speech, he expressed his regret at the slap.

"I want to be a vessel for love... I want to apologise to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. This is a beautiful moment and I'm not crying for winning an award. It's about being able to shine light on all the people [involved in King Richard]...

"Art imitates life, I looks like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. Love will make you do crazy things."

Smith finished his speech by saying he hoped the Academy would invite him back to the Oscars in the future.