The incident was not staged or part of the show. It occurred after Rock pointed out Jada Pinkett Smith in the crowd and said, "Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it," referring to her bald head.
Pinkett Smith, who was diagnosed with alopecia in 2018 and has been public about her struggles about not being able to grow her hair, rolled her eyes after Rock's joke. Will Smith then walked up to Rock onstage and smacked him.
“Oh, wow. Wow. Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me,” Rock said after Smith left the stage, the crowd both stunned and laughing.
When Smith sat back down in his seat he yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth,” according to reporters in the room and at least one international broadcast.
“Wow, dude. It was a G.I. Jane joke,” Rock responded.
Smith repeated himself and screamed back at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”
“I’m going to, OK?” Rock said.
The incident baffled viewers, many trying to figure out if it was part of the show or not.
Later in the evening, Smith went on to win the award for Best Leading Actor for playing Richard Williams, Venus and Serena Williams’ father, in King Richard. The audience gave Smith a standing ovation as he took the stage to accept his award.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” Smith said at the start of his speech. “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 was crying through much of the speech and went on to apologize. “I want to apologize to the academy. I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees,” he said. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”
Smith did not issue a specific apology to Rock.
After the awards show ended, the Academy of Motion Pictures responded on Twitter.
"The Academy does not condone violence of any form," the tweet said. "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."
Meanwhile, Smith's son Jaden Smith tweeted, "And That’s How We Do It."
At this point, the incident is not a criminal matter because Rock declined to file a police report. A representative for Rock didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
"The individual involved has declined to file a police report," the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. "If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report."