HOLLYWOOD – Sunday evening’s Oscar ceremony took an awkward turn when best-actor nominee Will Smith scrambled onto the stage and smacked comedian Chris Rock, who had just made a joke about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
Rock was on stage to present the Oscar for best documentary feature, but he peppered in some jokes, including one referencing Pinkett Smith’s bald head, suggesting she would be starring in another “G.I. Jane” film.
Pinkett Smith has talked in the past about having a hair-loss condition.
After the joke, Smith ran up on stage and smacked Rock, in a move that initially drew laughs from the crowd, believing it was a pre-planned comedy skit. But Smith walked back to his seat, then sternly screamed at Rock twice, telling him to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth.”
The audience then fell into a stunned silence.
Rock went on to present the award amid an awkward silence inside the Dolby Theatre.
Sean “Diddy” Combs briefly addressed the situation when he took the stage a short time later to introduce a 50th anniversary celebration of “The Godfather.”
“Will and Chris, we’re going to solve that like family,” he said.